We can keep your cat in!
There has been a lot of media attention lately on pet cats and whether they have a significant environmental impact, spread disease or help fuel neighbour wars!
Questions being asked have related to whether cats should be allowed to roam free outside of owners properties or have a registration and control system similar to that we have for dogs.
Some people are arguing that pet cats should not be replaced once they reach the end of their life, so gradually be phased out. New Zealand currently has one of the highest rates of pet cat ownership, so these questions are worth thinking about from your own perspective.
Xcluder have been involved in the business of containing or excluding both feral and domestic cats since 1996, when we first started designing fences and barriers to keep animals in and out. We have seen the value that pet cats bring to many people and also the disease and environmental risks that cats can cause when in the wrong places at the wrong times. One of our earliest projects was to build a cat-proof fence around Wellington Zoo to stop the spread of toxoplasmosis from neighbourhood cats to the zoo wildlife.
We have a range of cat fence or enclosure options and products that can be used to keep cats in or out. The designs vary depending on the scale of the project, the nature of the property, the type of cat involved and the budget for the job.
It’s pretty likely that if you have been thinking about whether you can keep you cat in (or the neighbourhood cats out), we’ll have a fence, cat-friendly enclosure or other solution that could work for you.
A domestic cat tries to cross a paling fence with cat rollers attached.
Seabird conservation efforts on Corvo
From: Seachange (The Newsletter of the Global Seabird Programme), Issue 8, August 2012.
By: Jose Tavares
Thump! A small plane shudders against strong winds after hitting the short runaway on Corvo – the smallest island in the Azores. Corvo hosts one of the most exciting
conservation initiatives in the Atlantic – the EU-funded LIFE Project “Safe islands for seabirds”. Discovered 500 years ago, the Azores were historically a haven for seabirds. Half a
century later, many species were either extinct (eg Fea’s petrel), absent from the main islands or hugely declined. Only Cory’s shearwater continues to have a widespread breeding range, with the Azores holding 60-70% of the world’s population. All other species – some extremely rare in Europe (eg little shearwater) – only breed on off-shore islets or inaccessible cliffs, where introduced rats and cats are absent. Last year, conservationists from SPEA (BirdLife Portugal), New Zealand and Corvo, erected a 800 m Xcluder fence.
These fences have been very effective at keeping out predators from colonies in New Zealand. Dozens of nest cameras were installed to understand cat activity
(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3kcs1_Axefg&feature=relmfu) and breeding productivity of Cory’s shearwaters was monitored over several years. 250 artificial nests were built inside the fence to make a predator-free colony for further research. This autumn the team will translocate more than a dozen Cory’s shearwater chicks from natural nests two weeks before fledging, to ‘jump-start’ a new predator-free colony. Light pollution from the settlement on Corvo (400 people) poses a different problem. Manx shearwaters, returning to the colony, become disorientated by the lights and slam disastrously into buildings. To combat this, the project has collaborated with local schoolchildren, who now patrol the village at night and bring in hundreds of shearwaters for rehabilitation and ringing (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gcDCJhSuTlE). Now in its final year, we will soon see if the “Safe islands for seabirds” project has been able to restore a large, inhabited island to its former glory.
Dotterel protection at Omaha Spit
We're currently buikding a predator fence across Omaha Spit, north of Auckland for the Omaha Shorebird Protection Trust (link to http://matenz.novahost.org/omahashorebirds.co.nz/index.php).
Some would say the fence should be used to keep the politicians (who like to holiday there) out, but most are just thrilled that the fence, which literally enters the tide at times, will help protect the New Zealand dotterel and other shorebirds as they try to breed on the site.
The fence will be completed in August, the pest removal with then continue in earnest, and the birds will be the ones to benefit.
Fence Is Behind an Explosion of Life in a Wild Corner of Hawaii
By Christopher Pala
SITTING PRETTY A Laysan albatross with its chick at Kaena Point, Hawaii, on Oahu, where a mesh fence erected last year has kept predators out.
By CHRISTOPHER PALA
Published: April 16, 2012
A version of this article appeared in print on April 17, 2012, on page D3 of the New York Times edition with the headline: Fence Is Behind an Explosion of Life in a Wild Corner of Hawaii.
KAENA POINT, Hawaii — Before Polynesian settlers arrived here hundreds of years ago in their outrigger canoes, Hawaii had more than 120 species of birds — and no mammals to eat them. Land birds flourished in the absence of land predators, and seabirds flew in from all over the world to nest undisturbed on the ground.
All of that changed with the arrival of humans — and the dogs, cats, rats and mongooses that came with them. Hawaii became the extinction capital of the world; all but a few species of land birds disappeared or diminished to tiny numbers, and many seabirds avoided extinction only by flying to other islands.
But here on this wild, windswept point just 30 miles from Waikiki's crowded beaches, the first predator-proof fence in the United States, built last year by Xcluder, a New Zealand company, is helping to restore the land to a pristine state and proving a boon for scientists and bird-watchers.
The fine-mesh green fence zigzags about four-tenths of a mile, from the south coast to the north on Oahu's westernmost spit of land. It is fitted with an overhang that lets rats climb out but not in. People enter through a two-door chamber, in which one door won't open unless the other is closed.
What has resulted is a slow-motion explosion of life.
"The fence is doing its job," said Eric VanderWerf, a biologist who, with his wife, Lindsay C. Young, is studying populations of albatrosses and shearwaters on a grant from the Packard Foundation. "The cats and mongooses were killing 15 percent of the chicks every year, and now they're all gone."
Each week, Dr. VanderWerf drives from Honolulu to check a system of 1,100 traps, cameras and poisoned-bait stations for any indication that a predator may have sneaked in.
"The rats used to eat the seed of this plant, and now we're seeing them sprout everywhere," he said, pointing to a rare native ohai bush with exquisitely chiseled red flowers.
Nearly all of the 400 or so Laysan albatrosses that spend the nesting season here have been fitted with leg rings and have had their DNA taken, and many have been given GPS tracking devices, said Sheila Conant, a professor of zoology at the University of Hawaii.
"There will soon be a unique record of the individual history of hundreds of birds — where they went, who their mates are, who their offspring are and so on," Dr. Conant said, adding that this kind of accessibility to data had led to the discovery a few years ago that nearly one-third of the nesting pairs are made up of two females, the biggest proportion of any known bird colony.
Kaena Point, a nature reserve, was a favorite haunt of off-road enthusiasts until 1990, when boulders were placed at the entrance to bar vehicles and protect native plants. Laysan albatrosses and wedge-tailed shearwaters soon began nesting there, the albatrosses on the surface, the shearwaters in burrows.
On a recent afternoon, Dr. VanderWerf walked across the point's sandy soil, studded with white Laysans, the most common of the three Northern Hemisphere albatrosses. According to the first count since the fence was put up, he said, there are about 400 birds here this season: 62 nesting pairs, 38 chicks and maybe 200 others, mostly juveniles who come to court or just to hang out. Some rested, their heads swung around and beaks tucked between folded wings; others waddled ungracefully. Pairs engaged in elaborate mating rituals involving a cowlike moo.
Meanwhile, the chicks, covered in chocolate-brown down, favored the shelter of low-growing naio bushes, while their parents, which can travel thousands of miles while hardly moving their wings, roamed the northern Pacific for squid and small fish that they pick off the surface and later regurgitate into their chicks' open beaks. All around were thousands of burrows dug by the shearwaters, whose mating season comes later in the year.
"Since we've had the fence," said Dr. Young, who studied the Laysans of Kaena Point for her doctorate at the University of Hawaii, "the number of albatrosses that come here has risen by 25 percent, and I expect it to continue."
A glimpse of the future can be found at the world's largest albatross colony, on Midway Atoll, 1,200 miles away in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, where about 1.5 million Laysans roost each year. They are so numerous, and such poor fliers at close quarters, that in nesting season bird counters are regularly knocked off their bicycles by low-flying birds. This correspondent, standing atop a low hill, was knocked down when a Laysan flew into his forehead.
A Midway albatross, named Wisdom, was ringed 60 years ago and is the oldest documented wild bird. She was spotted feeding a new chick this year.
On Midway, the density reaches 1,000 birds per acre, and about half of the 64 acres on Kaena Point offer terrain suitable for Laysans, so having "30,000 Laysans nesting at Kaena Point wouldn't be unreasonable, and certainly 1,000 within 10 years," Dr. Young said.
As Dr. VanderWerf surveyed a group of eight Laysans with his field glasses, he noticed that one was not ringed. So he simply walked over. The ringed ones took off, but the unringed bird just stared at the biologist, who caught him with ease. "It's obvious he's never been caught," Dr. VanderWerf said as his assistant, Mike Lohr, carefully placed a ring on each foot.
Dr. VanderWerf said that Kaena Point offered advantages over Midway. Birds fight less because it's less crowded. Fewer die from ingesting floating trash, because Oahu is farther from the denser parts of the Great Pacific garbage patch. And Kaena Point's elevation is greater — a haven from rising sea levels. (Last year's tsunami killed a third of the chicks on Midway.) And from a scientific point of view, it's easier to keep track of a smaller population.
For bird lovers, it represents the only place in the world where albatrosses can be observed at close quarters without supervision, fee or guide. Today, an estimated 50,000 people visit the point; they are asked to not bring dogs and to stick to roped-off paths.
"Most seabirds are in decline, and introduced predators play a big role," said Dr. Conant, of the University of Hawaii. The fence, which cost $290,000, "is an affordable way to save them."
Xcluder Fences Around the World!
Xcluder fence knowledge, expertise and technology (along with our staff!) have become very well travelled over the last couple of years. While we have continued to build high quality fences here in New Zealand (e.g. the Te Puia kiwi crèche), we have also been delivering pest exclusion solutions in other parts of the world.
In Hawaii, we completed a seabird protection fence at Kaena Point, using anodised aluminium and 316 grade stainless steel products, exported from New Zealand. Since fence completion the site has already increased in biological and recreational value:
“The removal of predators has already resulted in a record number of Wedge-tailed Shearwater (Puffinus pacificus) chicks in 2011, and is expected to result in increased Laysan Albatross (Phoebastria immutabilis) reproduction in 2012. Predator exclusion and removal is also anticipated to encourage other seabird species to nest at Ka`ena Point, and to enhance regeneration and recruitment of native plants and invertebrates.”
During late 2011 and 2012 we have been building snail proof exclosures to protect native Hawaiian snails from mammal pests and from the introduced predatory Rosy Wolf snail. Pretty interesting and challenging stuff!
We’ve been lucky enough to travel to the Island of Corvo in the Azores to build another seabird protection fence. These Portuguese owned Islands are in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, and it’s been great working with the passionate and committed Portuguese staff from SPEA (The Portuguese society for the Study of Birds) who helped build the fence. Finishing touches on Corvo will be completed in the middle of this year.
We’ve also continued our exclusion barrier advice and design work for existing and new customers in Mauritius, Japan, Australia and the USA.
No matter where we go in the world, we constantly encounter the negative effect that introduced animals can have on the ecological, social and financial health of environmental and commercial projects. The reward for our teams is seeing the positive difference that effective Xcluder barriers can make.
Stainless steel mesh proving its worth
Xcluder have been sourcing and supplying high quality stainless steel mesh since 1999, when we first began our company. In the 13 years since we have developed fantastic supplier relationships and learned a huge amount about what different mesh products do and don’t achieve. After visiting numerous suppliers and manufacturers in the early days, we were able to buy mesh directly from the manufacturers at guaranteed quality and exceptional prices.
These days we continue to buy stainless steel mesh to meet our fencing needs, but also supply a wide range of other high quality mesh products to meet specific customer needs. These meshes include stainless steel, aluminium and galvanised meshes, in welded, woven and chainlink configurations. Our customers get access to the buying power we developed for our own needs.
For example, Xcluder supply stainless steel woven mesh (6mesh and 8mesh) to the beekeeping industry. Mesh bottom boards are put in the base of bee hives to protect them from varroa mite and mice. We supply whole rolls, part rolls or cut panels to meet beekeepers needs.
If you have a custom mesh need, or think one of our standard mesh products might be suitable for your project, feel free to get in touch. If you can dream up a mesh configuration, we can probably source it and supply it at the best pricing you are likely to encounter.