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Feral cats are one of the most destructive invasive predators worldwide. Due to the high risk of pushing native species to extinction in Australia, density-reduction or eradication campaigns can greatly improve the persistence probability and recovery of native fauna. Kangaroo Island — Australia’s third-largest island — was recently nominated as a...

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... This is generally not a sustainable management strategy given the usually limited resources and time available for such conservation programmes (e.g. Venning et al. 2020). Most studies that found feral cat culling to be effective and with a lasting impact on the cat population were examining either intensive and sustained management efforts (Algar and Burrows 2004) or situations where populations are relatively closed (e.g. ...
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Invasive feral cats threaten biodiversity at a global scale. Mitigating feral cat impacts and reducing their populations has therefore become a global conservation priority, especially on islands housing high endemic biodiversity. The New Caledonian archipelago is a biodiversity hotspot showing outstanding terrestrial species richness and endemism. Feral cats prey upon at least 44 of its native vertebrate species, 20 of which are IUCN Red-listed threatened species. To test the feasibility and efficiency of culling, intensive culling was conducted in a peninsula of New Caledonia (25.6 km²) identified as a priority site for feral cat management. Live-trapping over 38 days on a 10.6 km² area extirpated 36 adult cats, an estimated 44% of the population. However, three months after culling, all indicators derived from camera-trapping (e.g., abundance, minimum number of individuals and densities) suggest a return to pre-culling levels. Compensatory immigration appears to explain this unexpectedly rapid population recovery in a semi-isolated context. Since culling success does not guarantee a long-term effect, complementary methods like fencing and innovative automated traps need to be used, in accordance with predation thresholds identified through modelling, to preserve island biodiversity. Testing general assumptions on cat management, this article contributes important insights into a challenging conservation issue for islands and biodiversity hotspots worldwide.