Exclosure fencing uses a purpose-built fence to create a haven for native species where they are protected from feral cat predation. The fences are used to protect areas or species of high conservation value and may provide a safe place for threatened species to be reintroduced. Australia currently has a network of 17 fenced havens, which offer protection to 32 threatened mammal species and a total of 188 species.
As feral cats are particularly agile and are adept climbers, exclosure fences need to be specifically designed. This may include using a floppy top design (similar to this one used at Arid Recovery) or electric wires to prevent cats from climbing over the fence. Once an exclosure fence is in place, feral cat populations will need to be eradicated within the fenced area, using other management tools as appropriate. Ongoing monitoring and maintenance of the fence is essential to ensure lasting protection from feral cats.
- Effectively excludes cats from a given area and provide a safe haven for vulnerable species
- Can also exclude other pests such as rabbits and foxes at the same time
- Expensive to construct
- Populations within the fence may become genetically isolated
- Restricts the movement of all species and may hinder the escape of individuals in the event of a wildfire or other catastrophe
- Requires significant management effort to eradicate feral cats within the protected area
- Regular monitoring and maintenance are required to check for damage
To gain the maximum benefit from exclosure fencing at a state-wide or national level a systematic approach should be taken to the placement of any new exclosure fences. This will ensure the greatest number of species benefit from the network of fenced havens across Australia.
To remain effective exclosure fences need to be well maintained and closely monitored for any damage, such as from severe weather events, which may allow feral cats to breach the fence. This can be time consuming and costly and should be factored in when planning an exclosure fence.
Greater protection can be provided by using other management tools in conjunction with exclosure fencing. This could include routine baiting, shooting or installation of Felixer units around the fenced area to control any patrolling feral cats and reduce the likelihood of feral cat incursion.
Exclosure fencing is best suited for protecting areas or species of high conservation value that have no tolerance to predation by feral cats. The Rangeleands Restoration project in Matuwa is a great example of this, with golden bandicoots, mala and boodies among the species thriving within the exclosure area.
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