Black Friday for feral cats

Feral cat spotted along the Chapman River. Photo supplied by Sandra Rowe.
Feral cat spotted along the Chapman River. Photo supplied by Sandra Rowe.

Friday the 13th might seem like an auspicious day to talk about feral cats, but it proved lucky for Western Australia’s native fauna.

Hosted by WA’s seven Natural Resource management groups (NRMWA), more than 20 feral cat researchers and specialists from across the state gathered at a recent Feral Cat Round Table to share knowledge and create synergies across organisations and boundaries for more effective feral cat management and control in Western Australia.

“One of the key messages from just about everyone in the room was that this isn’t about hating cats, it’s about the impacts that feral cats (cats that have gone wild) have on Australia’s unique biodiversity,” said NACC Biodiversity Coordinator Dr Jessica Stingemore.

“Feral cats have been a major contributor to the extinction of at least 27 mammals since they were first introduced to Australia. Today, they imperil at least 142 species, or more than one-third of our threatened mammals, reptiles, frogs and birds.”

A major topic discussed during the forum was current feral cat control and detection methods including Feral Cat Scan, cage traps, Eradicat®, motion senor cameras, sand pad traps, grooming traps, cat detection dogs, and feral free, protective fencing.

Richard McLellan, NACC CEO, and NRM-Australia representative on the National Feral Cat Taskforce, noted that the effort will principally focus on feral cats and how best to reduce their impacts on native wildlife, and called-on members of the community to contribute to the outcomes.

‘Feral cats’ are cats that live and reproduce in the wild (in forests, woodlands, grasslands, wetlands, etc.) and survive by hunting or scavenging.

”Members of the public can help in many ways, such as by reporting feral cats whenever they see them, using the online app Feral Cat Scan. This will help to identify where there are feral cats close to threatened species and important wildlife habitat, leading to implementation of practical and humane solutions to reduce their impact on Australia’s unique and precious native wildlife,” he said.

Cats can be grouped into categories according to how and where they live.

  • Feral cats are those that live and reproduce in the wild and survive by hunting or scavenging.
  • Stray cats are those found in and around cities, towns and rural properties.
  • Domestic cats are those owned by an individual, a household, a business or corporation.

NACC is keen to see feral cats number drastically reduced right across the NACC NRM region, but also for all cat owners to be “part of the solution’. It has an ongoing public-awareness campaign urging RSPCA-endorsed responsible pet ownership guidelines. All cat owners are encouraged to register, microchip, sterilise and contain their cats to ensure they are having zero impact on local wildlife.

If you have seen a feral cat please report it using the smart phone app  Feral Cat Scan

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