Felixer FAQs

Background
Felixers were developed and patented by Ecological Horizons with assistance from several NGOs and Government grants as a novel, humane and automated tool to help control feral cats and foxes. They use rangefinder sensors to distinguish target cats and foxes from nontarget wildlife and humans etc and spray targets with a measured dose of toxic gel. The solar-powered Felixer which can hold 20 sealed cartridges of toxic gel automatically resets after firing. Felixers photograph all animals detected (including nontargets that are not fired upon) and can be programmed to play a variety of audio lures to attract feral cats and foxes.
Why do feral cats require control?
In environments like Australia and many islands where cats aren’t native, feral cats can have a devastating effect on naïve wildlife. Cats have driven many mammals and some birds to extinction and potentially threaten a further 74 mammals, 40 birds, 21 reptiles and 4 amphibians in Australia. Outdoor cats also transmit diseases to wildlife (and humans), that affects their behaviour and survivorship. Further information on the threats of feral cats and control options is available from the resources page.
Why develop a grooming trap for cats?
Although feral cats are often reluctant to take baits or enter traps, they fastidiously groom, creating a pathway to instinctive toxin delivery. Toxin delivery through grooming has advantages over conventional traps because the feral cat does not need to be restrained and ‘traps’ don’t need to be frequently checked and rebaited. Recognising the need and opportunity for grooming-based cat control Action 1.2, a ‘very high priority’ of the Australian Government Threat Abatement Plan for Predation by Feral Cats (2015) is to ‘Develop and register other cat control tools, including devices exploiting cat grooming habits’.
What is Thylation?
Thylation is a new Not-For-Profit Australian listed company created to commercialise Felixers (and potentially other environmental inventions). Directors Anthony Lele and John Read have considerable connections with environmental NGOs and collective experience in engineering, applied ecology, commercialisation and business management. Thylation have licensed Felixer IP from Ecological Horizons and John Read remains a director of both organisations.
Do Felixers affect other carnivores?
Most Australian native carnivores (including western and northern quolls) are too small to activate Felixers although the larger spotted-tail quoll has yet to be thoroughly tested and may potentially activate Felixers on occasions. Adult dingoes are too tall to activate Felixers, but pups would be targeted and if they groom would be at risk from Felixers. Therefore, Felixers may need to be deactivated in whelping season where maintenance of dingo populations is important. Although pen trials with PAPP toxin indicated a low control rate for foxes by Felixers, subsequent ongoing trials using 1080 Felixer cartridges suggest a much higher (>80%) death rate of foxes.
What conditions are required to trial or operate Felixers?

Use of agricultural chemicals, including toxins, in Australia is governed by the Australian Pesticide and Medical Veterinary Association (APVMA). Because Felixers use a new technique to administer toxins, all use of Felixers armed with toxin must currently be covered under a restricted use APVMA research permit (issued to Ecological Horizons), which provides deployment, signage and reporting requirements. New trial sites must be accepted by APVMA before commencement of trials.

Where are Felixers currently being trialled?
Field trials of Felixers have been underway since 2015 and are currently underway at 6 sites in SA, 3 sites in Queensland and 2 sites in both WA and NSW, targeting threatened species including bilbies, bettongs, rock wallabies, western and northern quolls, malleefowl and rare dunnarts and rodents. Some of these trials are in photo-only mode whilst permission for loading with 1080 is received. Trials have been conducted or supported by 5 government environment bodies, 3 environmental NGOs, 2 indigenous ranger groups and 4 mining companies.
How are data accessed and analysed?
Felixers take a photograph every time their sensors are intercepted, whether set in photo-only mode or in live fire mode, and the images are classified as target or nontarget by the Felixer algorithm. Also included is a detailed data log of key attributes (date, time, battery power, lure played, detailed sensor activation, temperature etc) that are used for analyses, diagnostics and performance optimisation. Felixers therefore operate as both a management tool and a sophisticated camera trap monitoring device. Data are stored on a USB that is also used to upgrade software. Thylation are developing a web-based database management system that will enable all data to be uploaded and stored, with specific access provisions provided to site managers and the overall Felixer management team. These data are then used to compile site-based statistics and also overall performance and target specificity information for the national trial.
Early results

Results from the most comprehensive trials conducted to date at Venus Bay CP, Secret Rocks Nature Reserve, Kangaroo Island and Arid Recovery suggest that Felixers provide a target specific and safe tool for feral cat management as summarised in a scientific manuscript accepted for publication by Wildlife Society Bulletin. The first comprehensive efficacy trial conducted at Arid Recovery in early 2018 successfully targeted 72 cats (but no bilbies, birds, quolls, rabbits, bettongs and only one nontarget kangaroo) and detected a 66% reduction in feral cat activity in 2 months. Updates from other trials will be posted on this website.

Do Felixers require any maintenance or servicing?
It’s still relatively early days for field trials but we don’t anticipate regular servicing will be required except for cleaning sensors and the solar panel with a cloth after rain or dust storms and checking on the solar panel positioning and connections, especially after storms. If Felixers are not set (in sunny conditions) for extended periods it is important to connect them to the battery charger to maintain the battery. Occasional software updates can be made by uploading from the USB. The user manual contains detailed instructions on tests, diagnostics and software upgrades.
V4 cost

The current version 4 are available for pre-order. Additionally, gel cartridges can be ordered separately upon receipt of 1080 permits from end users. Additional costs associated with freight, training, support for approvals and ongoing support will be determined on a case by case scenario. An order form is available to download here.

Can the Felixer be rented?

A rent option of photo-only Felixers are available for 3 month trials including data report at the conclusion of the trial. Please note that there is limited availability of rental units. We are looking at further rental/lease options in the future, please let us know if this is of interest.

Terms and conditions
Until broadscale registration is received, Felixers can only be operated with toxins if approved by the APVMA and State or Territory 1080 authorities. Potential Felixer users should also check whether Animal Ethics &/or Scientific Research permits are required for participation in these research trials. Users also need to provide core data to Thylation for to satisfy reporting agreements, albeit with appropriate masking of any site-specific sensitive information and recognition of participant contributions.

Further information

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