For feral cats in Australia, implant makes native wildlife their last meal

A researcher takes measurements of a bilby. Credit: UniSA

Researchers in Australia have come up with a novel way to protect native wildlife from feral cats. Scientists with the University of South Australia developed rice-sized implants that can be injected under the skin of bilbies or other native animals. When they’re consumed by a feral predator, the implants become a deadly poison. The implants are coated with a polymer that developers say keeps it safe under the skin but dissolves in the cat’s digestive system. The poison is similar to one found naturally in a variety of Australian plants, they say, so native wildlife have a tolerance to it but feral cats don’t. About 30 bilbies on the fenced Arid Recovery Reserve in South Australia are carrying the implants. Feral cats are a primary threat to many native species in Australia.

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