This project aims to create a safe haven for threatened wildlife by eradicating feral cats from French Island. The project is a collaboration between government agencies and the French Island community, and builds on over a decade of work to control feral cat populations on the island.

The eradication of feral cats will be achieved using a combination of baiting, trapping and shooting supported by an extensive monitoring program. These on-ground actions are supported by a locally-driven Responsible Pet Ownership program for domestic cats and community events.

Current activities

  • Trapping is occurring within the French Island National Park.
  • Extensive camera monitoring of feral cats and wildlife response is ongoing.
  • The Responsible Pet Ownership program continues.
  • Adaptive planning of eradication activities and monitoring approaches is ongoing to ensure best program outcomes.

Why this project is important  

Feral cats are a significant pest species in Australia and have a catastrophic impact on Australia’s native fauna populations. Predation by feral cats is one of the greatest threats to Australia’s land-based mammals and is implicated in the involvement of at least 27 mammal species extinctions.  

French Island is surrounded by the internationally-significant Western Port Ramsar site and supports a large population of Long-nosed Potoroo, as well as the recently introduced Eastern-barred Bandicoot. Feral cats are one of the greatest threats to native wildlife on French Island and of the native species recorded on the island, 34 are threatened with extinction. 

The critically-endangered Eastern Curlew
An Eastern Curlew, which migrates to French Island over the warmer months.

Two Long-nosed Potoroos and a Lewin’s Rail captured on one of the monitoring cameras
Two Long-nosed Potoroos and a Lewin’s Rail captured on one of the monitoring cameras.


Over 230 bird species have been recorded on French Island including significant species such as the White-Bellied Sea-Eagle, King Quail and the Orange-Bellied Parrot, as well as 33 species of waders which forage along the coast at low tide.   

The Australian Government identified French Island as one of the five Australian islands where feral cat eradication can be achieved. This work will create a safe-haven for French Island’s unique fauna, free of introduced predators. In 2022, the Federal Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek released the Australian Government’s new Threatened Species Action Plan 2022-2032, which included French Island as a ‘priority place’ for biodiversity protection and improvement.

Project timing and delivery

Project planning started in 2018, on-ground operations which commenced in 2021 are ongoing.

The project is being delivered in three phases:


Phase 1

Reduce the majority of the feral cat population using a broad-scale approach


Phase 2

Target eradication activities to remove the last remaining cats


Phase 3

Monitoring and surveillance to confirm the eradication has been successful 

Project partners

This project was originally led by the Port Phillip and Westernport Catchment Management Authority, which was integrated into Melbourne Water in January 2022. Melbourne Water is now the delivery agency.

Project partners are:

  • French Island Community Association 

  • French Island Landcare Group

  • Parks Victoria 

  • Zoos Victoria  

  • Phillip Island Nature Parks 

  • Victorian Government Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action

  • Australian Government

Funding acknowledgement  

The Feral Cat Free French Island project is supported Melbourne Water through funding from the Australian Government, the Victorian Government and Zoos Victoria in partnership with Parks Victoria, French Island Landcare Group and Phillip Island Nature Parks.

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