THE release to The Chronicle of a photo of a feral cat on Fraser Island has sent conservations into a spin and the Department of Environment and Resources into damage control mode to try to develop a strategy to contain the cats.
DERM officers originally heard reports from rangers and skilled bushmen working on the island that there were populations of wild cats loose, and that these were possibly breeding.
A professional tracker trailing and trapping dingoes as part of a DERM collaring and satellite tracking program flagged the presence of wild cats in an official report recently after coming across scats and footprints in sand patches.
This contractor, highly regarded by the DERM administrators dealing with environmental issues touching the island, has been given added weight now that photographic evidence has come to light.
“Feral cats are recognised as a significant threat to native wildlife throughout Australia especially animals in the smaller size range such as small macropods, bandicoots, rats, mice, small reptiles and birds,” said Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service regional manager Great Sandy Ross Belcher.
“Past surveys by QPWS of the island’s small animal populations have not indicated any significant effect on their numbers which could be attributed to feral cats.
“We will be undertaking similar surveys this year to provide further information on the populations of potential prey species.
“Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service are currently considering the best way to get a measure of the feral cat population.”
Mr Belcher said people kept cats on the island before most of it was declared a national park and, as has happened in the rest of Australia, these animals could have escaped or been left behind.