Cacophony Project Trap success with cats on Caymans
The High Interaction Rate Trap from The Cacophony Project has success with hard to catch feral cats on the Cayman Islands.
The Cayman Islands have a wide variety of unique wildlife, including blue iguana and Sister Islands rock iguana. The young iguanas are particularly vulnerable to feral cats whose population has proliferated. This predation has resulted in little to no younger generation and the species cannot recover sustainably without intervention.
Cats also prey on seabirds, turtle hatchlings, blue throated anoles, curly tail lizards, bats and small birds.
The Cayman Islands Department of Environment is undertaking island-wide trapping in Little Cayman. Cats are checked for microchips before being dispatched.
The Department of Environment partnered with a landowner in Little Cayman to try four of the Cacophony Project high interaction rate traps (HIRTs) to target trap-shy feral cats. In a ten-day test the 4 HIRTs caught 9 cats and one rat (2.25 cats/trap), whereas 58 cage traps caught 12 cats and several rats during the same period (0.21 cats/trap). The HIRTs had 10x better effectiveness for cats. This is in-line with what other Cacophony Project customers have found. Their best night was from three HIRTs in one area when they caught five cats (checking the traps every 3 hours to get that result).
Frederic Burton, Manager of the Department of Environment’s Terrestrial Resources Unit said about the traps “...we can’t nail down a strict quantitative comparison [ to the cage traps]. What we can say is they proved remarkably effective on cats that were avoiding or ignoring regular cage traps, and also that we caught a cat on the first night of HIRT deployment, in 7 deployments out of the 11 sites we set up on over the two week period, which is a remarkable statistic in its own right.”
Fred has made some useful suggestions on how we can improve the trap. One of these is to disable the blinds once the cage has closed. This will allow other animals to walk through the trap without setting it off when another animal is caught in the cage. This will reinforce the scent trail through the trap and not scare the animals when they can’t be caught. We have built a switch to do this.
The Department of Environment has decided to buy another 15 HIRTs to enhance control of Little Cayman’s feral cats and protect their unique wildlife.