Pro­gram tack­ling feral cats is con­tin­u­ing suc­cess­fully at Mt Buller Mt Stir­ling Re­sort

Mt Buller News - - NEWS - By RHYLL MCCOR­MACK

MT BULLER Mt Stir­ling Re­sort of­fi­cers are con­tin­u­ing their fight against feral an­i­mals, with 170 cats caught in the last decade, along with foxes and other an­i­mals.

The pro­gram is part of on-go­ing work to help pro­tect the en­dan­gered Moun­tain Pygmy Pos­sum and Broad­tooth Rat pop­u­la­tions, with RMB en­vi­ron­ment ser­vices man­ager, Louise Per­rin, say­ing num­bers have in­creased each year.

“We started trap­ping cats and bait­ing foxes 12 years ago,” she ex­plained.

“We had video ev­i­dence that the cats were eat­ing the pos­sums and rats – we’ve got images of cats sit­ting in boul­der fields wait­ing for the pygmy to come out so they can pounce.”

Tak­ing out an av­er­age of 15 cats each year, Ms Per­rin said the pro­gram was closely mon­i­tored and di­vided into three dis­tinct stages of ac­tion.

“We al­ways do an in­ten­sive trap­ping right be­fore win­ter,” she said, “with an­other in­ten­sive trap­ping pro­gram just be­fore the end of win­ter as well.

“In be­tween, we op­por­tunis­ti­cally trap – where a camera might have picked up an im­age of a cat, we lay a trap.”

Since the pro­gram was in­tro­duced, the pop­u­la­tion of Moun­tain Pygmy Pos­sums has sig­nif­i­cantly re­cov­ered.

Sur­pris­ingly, Ms Per­rin said a large pop­u­la­tion of feral cats sur­vived away from the main Mt Buller re­sort area.

“The young ones are more re­liant on the vil­lage, but there are also plenty of cats liv­ing on the ski slopes and fur­ther out.

“They are very suc­cess­ful sur­vivors – we have images of them from all over the re­sort.”

Al­though trap­ping con­tin­ues through the win­ter months, Ms Per­rin and her team will start lay­ing more traps as the cold starts to wane.

“Up in this area, where we have crit­i­cally en­dan­gered species, we can’t turn a blind eye to these feral an­i­mals – but we do treat them with re­spect as they are still an an­i­mal, and all are hu­manely eu­thanised.”

CAUGHT: A feral cat that was caught on Mount Stir­ling.

ON CAMERA: Mt Buller/Mt Stir­ling staff have set up mo­tion sen­sor cam­eras across the re­sort to bet­ter learn where the cats fre­quent.

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