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Getting Ready for the Next Step: The Eradication of Feral Cats on Large and Highest Priority Mexican Islands

  • Author(s): Barredo-Barberena, J. M.
  • Ortiz-Alcaraz, A. A.
  • Hernández-Montoya, J. C.
  • Luna-Mendoza, L.
  • Aguirre-Muñoz, A.
  • et al.
Abstract

Mexican islands’ biodiversity is very rich and diverse; several reptile, bird, and mammal endemic species live on them. However, ecological and evolutionary processes have been negatively affected by invasive species. To date, more than 20 island endemics, including mammals, birds and reptiles, have gone extinct on Mexican islands. As a very opportunistic predator that adapts easily to different environments, the feral cat is one of the most lethal invasive species. Restoration of island ecosystems can be achieved effectively by the eradication of this noxious species. In Mexico, 18 islands (<400 km2) have been cleared of feral cats using traditional techniques, i.e. trapping and hunting. These techniques are still being implemented on smaller islands or on islands where populations are small. Nevertheless, on big islands with complex terrain and topography, varied habitats and climates, and with non-target species, there are challenges to overcome. This includes Socorro (130 km2), Cerralvo (135 km2), and Guadalupe (240 km2) Islands. To achieve successful cat eradications on these islands, dispersion of toxic baits will be necessary. Currently, bait trials are being developed by Grupo de Ecología y Conservación de Islas, A.C., and supported by Australian and New Zealand institutions, as part of island-specific eradication plans. To date, these studies comprise feral cat and native species ecology for Cerralvo and Socorro Islands. All data gathered is valuable for eradication planning.

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