Prospects for domestic and feral cat management on an inhabited tropical island
Cat management campaigns have been implemented on several islands worldwide. However, few successful campaigns have occurred on permanently inhabited islands. Cats are known for causing severe impacts on the native insular fauna, posing an important threat to biodiversity. Moreover, this species is also responsible for zoonosis maintenance and transmission. A thorough understanding of cat population structure (e.g., supervised vs. unsupervised) is strongly suggested as a management action on inhabited islands, as it might promote more efficient and effective management of this species. Fernando de Noronha is an archipelago in the tropical Atlantic Ocean. The total cat population on the main island was estimated at 1287 animals, most of them supervised and subsidized around inhabited areas. Free-roaming cats currently threaten the endemic terrestrial fauna of Fernando de Noronha, and the cat density found by the present work is among the highest ever recorded on an island. Using population dynamic simulations, the long-term effects of reproduction control and removal of cats from the archipelago were assessed. Removal of cats was also suggested as a necessary management strategy to achieve negative population growth. In addition, it was more cost-effective than reproduction control. However, applying both removal and sterilization strategies to this population resulted in a higher population decrease than removal alone. For these reasons, a combination of reproductive control and cat eradication should be implemented in Fernando de Noronha.