Cats on Bruny Island

This partnership project started in July 2016 with funding by the Australian Government. The aim is to undertake the foundational work to assess and manage the impacts of cats on the island.

Why Bruny Island?

Islands play a critical role in the conservation of Australia’s unique native fauna and feral cats are among the greatest threats to the conservation of island species (especially endemic mammals and birds, and breeding seabirds).

Bruny Island is a hotspot for biodiversity and is a world-class nature-based tourist destination. With an extensive coastline and diverse terrestrial habitats it is a sanctuary for nesting seabirds and shorebirds and has a wide diversity of other land dwelling mammals and birds. It is a designated site of global importance for bird conservation and it has the highest recorded number of native terrestrial mammal species of any Tasmanian off-shore island. Ten of these terrestrial dependent mammal and bird species are listed as threatened and twelve are of conservation significance.

The Island has been identified with having important high-risk native species under the Australian Government’s Threat Abatement Plan for Predation by Feral Cats. The protection of threatened native mammals from feral cats is also a priority of the Australian Government’s Threatened Species Strategy (2015).

On Bruny at least 13 native mammal and 50 native bird species are at risk from feral cat predation including the: threatened Eastern Quoll, Hooded Plover and Forty-Spotted Pardalote; Short-tailed Shearwater, Sooty Shearwater, Little Penguin, Long-nosed Potoroo.

In addition, grazing (predominantly sheep) accounts for about 14% of land use on the Island and feral cats adversely impact on agriculture productivity through the spread of livestock diseases (sarcocystis and toxoplasmosis).

Cat Management on Bruny Island

The second stage of the Bruny Island Cat Management Project is underway. The project is funded by the Australian Government from July 2020 – June 2023 with the aim to reduce the impacts of cats on north Bruny Island’s native species, in particular, the threatened Eastern quoll.

The project is managed by NRM South in partnership with Kingborough Council, Biosecurity Tasmania, Bruny Farming, weetapoona Aboriginal Corporation and the Ten Lives Cat Centre. Information on the project can be found here

For more information or feedback please don’t hesitate to contact our Cat Management Officer on phone (03) 6211 8200.

Impact of Cat Borne Disease on Livestock

Cats uniquely spread the diseases toxoplasmosis and sarcocystosis through parasites in their faeces. Toxoplasmosis adversely impacts on livestock (sheep, pigs and goats), wildlife and humans, while sarcocystosis reduces the quality of sheep meat.

In Australia these diseases cost an estimated $6 billion/year in reduced livestock production and human health impacts.  Because of its cool moist climate, Tasmania is a hotspot for these diseases and farms are important transmission sites to livestock and wildlife.

Grazing, predominantly sheep, accounts for about 14% of land use on Bruny, so in 2020 Mahalia Kingsley from UTAS compared the prevalence of these diseases among sheep on Bruny Island and the Midlands. She also looked at how the spread of these diseases can be managed on farms.

This video is a summary of the 2022 presentation by Dr Bruce Jackson, an expert in livestock health and farm management and Mahalia Kingsley (UTAS) to the Bruny community. Their findings emphasise the vital importance of:

  • managing feral and stray cats
  • desexing and containing pet cats
  • ensuring cats can’t access feed stores, shearing sheds and rubbish dumps
  • deep burial or hot composting of sheep carcasses and offal
  • diligently cleaning dead livestock off paddocks

Further Information