Feral Cat Free French Island is a five-year project that aims to create a safe haven for threatened wildlife by eradicating feral cats from French Island. The project is a collaboration between government agencies and the French Island community and builds on over a decade of work to maintain feral cat populations on the island. The project started in 2019 and will be completed in 2024.
The eradication of feral cats will be achieved using a combination of baiting, trapping and shooting supported by an extensive monitoring program. These on-ground actions are supported a domestic cat registration program and educational events.
This project was original led by the Port Phillip & Westernport CMA. The PPWCMA was integrated into Melbourne Water in January 2022 and Melbourne Water is now the delivery agency.
Why this project is important
Feral cats are a significant pest species in Australia and have a catastrophic impact on Australia’s native fauna populations. Predation by feral cats is one of the greatest threats to Australia’s land-based mammals and is implicated in the involvement of at least 27 mammal species extinctions.
French Island is surrounded by the internationally-significant Western Port Ramsar site and supports a large population of Long-nosed Potoroo, as well as the recently introduced Eastern-barred Bandicoot. Feral cats are one of the greatest threats to native wildlife on French Island and of the native species recorded on the island, 34 are threatened with extinction.
Over 230 bird species have been recorded on French Island including significant species such as the White-Bellied Sea-Eagle, King Quail and the Orange-Bellied Parrot, as well as 33 species of waders which forage along the coast at low tide.
The Australian Government has identified French Island as one of the five Australian islands where feral cat eradication can be achieved. This work will create a safe-haven for French Island’s unique fauna, free of introduced predators.
The project is being delivered in three phases:
Phase 1 (May – June 2021):
reduce the feral cat population by up to 80%
Phase 2 (July 2021 – December 2022):
remove the last remaining cats
Phase 3 (January 2023 – April 2024):
monitoring and surveillance to confirm the eradication has been successful
French Island Community Association
French Island Landcare Grou0
Phillip Island Nature Parks
The Feral Cat Free French Island project is supported Melbourne Water through funding from the Australian Government, the Victorian Government and Zoos Victoria in partnership with Parks Victoria, French Island Landcare Group and Phillip Island Nature Parks.