Application for Scientific Permit – Available for Public Comment
Public comment on the following application for a Scientific Research (Fauna) Permit is open until 27 June 2018.
Applicant: University of Tasmania, School of Natural Sciences
Species/Taxon: The study focus is on feral cat, eastern quoll and rabbit but small and medium mammals as well as reptiles and birds may be detected in this study. They include, but are not limited to: swamp rat, long-tailed mouse, house mouse, dusky antechinus, swamp antechinus, brushtail possum, long-nosed potoroo, ringtail possum, black rat, Tasmanian pademelon, short-beaked echidna, Bennett's wallaby, water rat, blotched bluetongue, metallic skink, and bird species (to be determined during survey with non-invasive visual count).
Location: The study site covers the entire area of Bruny Island and additional sites at Cygnet and Rheban which will be control sites for Bruny Island. The study will be on private and public land, including: South Bruny NP, Mount Bruny Forest Reserve, Mount Midway Forest Reserve, Mount Mangana Forest Reserve, Waterfall Creek State Reserve, Lutregala Creek Forest Reserve, Bruny Island Neck Game Reserve, Chuckle Head Conservation Area, Quarantine Station State Reserve, Mark Point Conservation Area, Dennes Hill Nature Reserve, Cape de la sortie Conservation Area, and Cape Bernier Nature Reserve.
Title of research: Science to conserve wildlife at landscape-scale: rabbits to control cats
Aim of project: This project aims to provide a scientific understanding of the distribution and ecology of feral cats on Bruny Island to inform control methods and to forecast the likely consequences of their eradication for the rest of the ecosystem.
Justification: The project will improve understanding of the ecology of feral cats and eastern quolls on Bruny Island through the study of distribution, movement, habitats, and diets. We will use suppression of cats and rabbits – these are being planned and will be implemented by management agencies independent of this project (the Bruny Island Cat Management Project) – as an experiment to better understand the interaction of cats and their introduced prey with native wildlife, including quolls. Feral cats are known predators of many native mammals in Tasmania, including several threatened species. Furthermore, this project will provide a relative population estimation of a large range of wildlife throughout Bruny Island and its diverse habitats. Our data will directly inform the Bruny Island Cat Management program.
Maximum likely numbers of individuals involved: As we use a wide range of non-invasive methods to investigate several taxon over a wide area, it is difficult to quantify the numbers of individuals involved. 30 adult feral cats will be trapped and fitted with GPS loggers.
Activities undertaken and methods: Wildlife distribution and abundance will be surveyed using a range of techniques, including non-invasive survey methods like wildlife camera traps, track tunnels, spotlight survey, bird survey, as well as capture-and-release methods with dry pitfall traps. Feral cats will be trapped using cage traps to fit GPS collar to study movement. Diet analysis will involve the collection of faeces for analysis of contents and of stomach contents from the euthanased cats to be done by the BI Cat Management Project.
Fate of animals: According to the “Australian code for the care and use of animals for scientific purposes” (edition 2013), feral cats must be humanely destroyed at the end of the tracking period (end-point of the project). Other procedures outlined in this application (camera traps, track tunnels, bird survey and spotlight survey) are non-invasive (no capture). Animals from pitfall traps will be released at the site of capture after identification.
Likely impact on species involved (including any by-catch): Trapping and handling of the animal may cause small levels of stress however this is of low impact. Investigators will be trained in animal handling and welfare before carrying out fieldwork.