Abstract: Three introduced predators, the dingo (Canis lupus dingo), the fox (Vulpes vulpes) and the feral cat (Felis catus) are widespread throughout the arid interior of Western Australia. While the dingo has been present for an estimated 3500–4000 years, the fox and the feral cat are relatively recent arrivals and have been implicated in the modern decline and in some cases extinction of arid zone fauna, especially medium size mammals. This paper reports on a long-term, large-scale project aimed at developing control strategies for these introduced predators. Broad area control of foxes and dingoes in the Gibson Desert using 40–60g dried meat baits impregnated with the poison sodium monofluoroacetate (1080) and delivered by aircraft at a density of 5baitskm−2 proved to be highly effective. Following a single aerial baiting of some 1600km2, foxes and dingoes were virtually eradicated from a core area for up to 15 months, but feral cats appeared to increase in abundance. Two aerial baitings (each 400km2) carried out during periods of below average rainfall using a small (about 30g) fresh meat bait developed to be attractive to feral cats reduced their abundance by an estimated 75% and 100% when baits were delivered at a density of 10 and 22km−2, respectively. A third aerial baiting at a density of 11baitskm−2 carried out during a period of above average rainfall reduced feral cat density by only 25% when surveyed 3 months after baiting. Baiting density, frequency and season are key factors likely to affect the impact of baiting on feral cat populations. Preliminary studies reveal that the home range of feral cats in this environment varies from about 700 to 1200ha. Reptiles and small native mammals form the major dietary items of feral cats and the seasonal variation in abundance of these items is likely to affect bait uptake. These observations have important implications for control strategies.
Burrows, N. D., Algar, D., Robinson, A. D., Sinagra, J., Ward, B., Liddelow, G., 2003, Controlling introduced predators in the Gibson Desert of Western Australia, Volume:55, Journal Article, viewed 13 August 2022, https://www.nintione.com.au/?p=14755.