Hanson, C. C., Jolley, W. J., Smith, G., Garcelon, D. K., Keitt, B. S., Little, A. E., & Campbell, K. J. (2014). Feral cat eradication in the presence of endemic San Nicolas Island foxes. Biological Invasions, 1-10.
Projects to eradicate invasive species from islands are a high priority for conservation. Here we describe the process used to successfully eradicate an introduced carnivore on an island where a native carnivore of similar size was also present. We primarily used padded leg-hold live trapping to capture feral cats (Felis silvestris catus). Trapped feral cats were transported off-island and housed in a permanent enclosure on the continent. We used additional methods, such as tracking dogs and spotlight hunting, to detect and remove more-difficult individuals. Project implementation caused no significant negative impacts to the endemic San Nicolas Island fox (Urocyon littoralis dickey) population. Mitigation measures included on-site veterinary resources, modified padded leg-hold live traps, conditioned trap aversion, a trap monitoring system and personnel training. To confirm eradication, we utilized camera traps and sign search data in a model to predict project success. A key part of the success of this project was the partnerships formed between NGOs, and government organizations. With support from the partnership, the use of innovative technology to improve traditional trapping methods allowed feral cats to be removed effectively in the presence of a native species occupying a similar niche. This project shows that strong partnerships, innovative methods, and use of technology can provide the conditions to eradicate invasive species when major barriers to success exist.