Oppel, S., , Hervias, S., Oliveira, N., Pipa, T., Cowen, H., Silva, C., Geraldes, P., 2012 Estimating feral cat density on Corvo island, Azores, to assess the feasability of feral cat eradication. Airo, 22: 3-11.
Feral cats have had negative effects on native biodiversity on many islands worldwide. Eradicating feral cats from islands is often feasible, and can yield great benefits to native biodiversity, especially for seabirds. Corvo Island (Azores) is an important island where feral cats limit the distribution and abundance of breeding seabirds. To assess whether the eradication of feral cats on Corvo would be feasible we used camera traps to estimate the density of feral cats. We deployed 24 camera traps at 253 locations around the island for 14 months, and identified cats detected by camera traps individually based on the coat colour. We then used spatially explicit capturere-capture models to estimate cat density for Corvo. Cat density in the uninhabited upland part of Corvo, which is dominated by cow pastures, was 0.036 (95% CI 0.025–0.054) cats/ha. The lowland part of Corvo, which is inhabited by humans and contains domestic cats, had an estimated cat density of 0.734 (0.581 – 0.927) cats/ha. Overall, we estimated that the cat population on Corvo during our study period included 163 (123 - 228) individuals. The estimated cat densities are within the range of cat densities from other islands where cats have been successfully eradicated, and we conclude that feral cat eradication on Corvo would be technically feasible. However, the co-existence of feral and domestic cats would create operational challenges, and the current lack of a legal framework to ensure that all domestic cats are sterilised would increase the risk of a feral cat population becoming re-established after eradication.