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Providing evidence to improve practice

Individual study: Cats (Felis catus) are more abundant and are the dominant predator of woylies (Bettongia penicillata) after sustained fox (Vulpes vulpes) control

Published source details

Marlow N.J., Thomas N.D., Williams A.A., Macmahon B., Lawson J., Hitchen Y., Angus J. & Berry O. (2015) Cats (Felis catus) are more abundant and are the dominant predator of woylies (Bettongia penicillata) after sustained fox (Vulpes vulpes) control. Australian Journal of Zoology, 63, 18-27


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Remove/control non-native mammals Terrestrial Mammal Conservation

A replicated, before-and-after study in 1970–2009 in two forest sites in Western Australia, Australia (Marlow et al. 2015) found that controlling invasive red foxes Vulpes vulpes initially increased the abundance of woylies Bettongia penicillata, but woylie numbers returned to pre-control levels after about 25 years. Results were not tested for statistical significance. After 25 years of fox control, the trapping success of woylies (caught in 3–8% of traps from 2002–2006) was only marginally higher than pre-control levels (2–3% from 1970–1975). However, trapping success had increased up to 28–65% during the first 20 years after the start of fox control. Between April 2006 and October 2009, more woylies were killed by cats Felis catus (65%) than by foxes (21%). Foxes were controlled from the mid-1970s at two reserves (2–6,800 ha) by baiting (either dry meat with 3 mg of 1080 poison or Pro-baits) with 5 baits/km2 every four weeks. No details about long-term woylie trapping are provided. Between April 2006 and October 2009, 146 woylies were radio-collared, of which 89 died. Cause of death was determined by DNA analysis and predation characteristics.

(Summarised by Ricardo Rocha)