Enabling conservation through innovation – Felixers for fire relief

Felixers provide targeted and effective protection of threatened species from feral cat and fox predation in fire-ravaged habitats.

Setting Felixer in dunnart refuge Kangaroo Island

Setting Felixer in dunnart refuge Kangaroo Island

In December 2019 and January 2020, 95% of the habitat of the Endangered Kangaroo Island Dunnart was razed by bushfire. Kangaroo Island Land for Wildlife (KILfW) identified small remnant patches of unburnt habitat and located surviving dunnarts at one location. With two loaned Felixers two feral cats were successfully targeted in the first 2 nights. These cats were likely to be efficient hunters because they evaded capture from 26 baited traps.

“All 8 radio collared feral cats that were sprayed by Felixers in a Kangaroo Island trial last year died, that’s why we were so keen to use them to protect our last few dunnarts. It would only take one of these feral cats to wipe out these last individuals of the species” said Pat Hodgens of KILfW.

Sandhill Dunnart

Sandhill Dunnart

When 10,000 ha of Secret Rocks Nature Reserve, including one third of the Mallee Refuge predator proof exclosure, burnt in early January, Felixers were quickly installed to reinforce the damaged fence.

Mallee Refuge landowner and Thylation director John Read said “We are confident that Felixers will help protect our endangered Sandhill Dunnarts and Malleefowl from fox and cat predation because Felixers eradicated feral cats from Mallee Refuge. Additional Felixers would protect the reserve and also to target cats and foxes invading the unburnt refuges along bulldozed fire tracks”.

The burnt Mallee Refuge that protects dunnarts and malleefowl

The burnt Mallee Refuge that protects dunnarts and malleefowl

Felixers have been proven to be highly targeted(1) and efficient(2) tools to control feral cats and are safe for native wildlife. Felixers have been trialled in all Australian states and are already protecting rare rock wallabies, quolls, bilbies and other threatened species at many sites.

Felixers can provide ongoing management of feral cats and foxes along fire breaks, fire access tracks through dense regenerating scrub and specially constructed ‘burnlines ‘ that simultaneously manage fire and feral predators.

“Funds are urgently required to manufacture additional Felixers for current and future fire-ravaged habitats around Australia to help protect our endangered wildlife” says Elaine Bensted, CEO of Zoos SA and director of Thylation Ltd, the not for profit organisation that is commercialising Felixers.

(1) Read, J.L., Bowden, T., Hodgens, P., Hess, M., McGregor, H. and Moseby, K. (2019). Target specificity of Felixer grooming ‘traps’. Wildlife Society Bulletin 43: 112-120.

(2) Moseby, K.E., McGregor, H. and Read, J.L. (2020) Effectiveness of the Felixer Grooming Trap for the control of feral cats: a field trial in arid South Australia. Wildlife Research

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