Joint statement by The Western Australian Biodiversity Science Institute and the Western Australian Feral Cat Working Group
Hon. Alannah MacTiernan MLC, Minister for Regional Development, today launched a Western Australian Feral Cat Working Group that will drive a unified approach to the control of feral cats across the State.
The Group will make information on feral cat management easily available to end users to facilitate a collaborative approach and will help guide the implementation of a new research program. The research program is led by The Western Australian Biodiversity Science Institute.
The new research program “Increasing knowledge to mitigate cat impacts on biodiversity” will mitigate the impacts of cat predation to improve stakeholder outcomes and will address key knowledge gaps to enhance management.
Minister MacTiernan stated “In 2018 our government listed feral cats as a pest under the Biosecurity and Agriculture Management Act. I’m thrilled to launch this community led initiative to bring people together to look at landscape scale options to protect WA’s biodiversity through effective feral cat management.”
Environment Minister Stephen Dawson said it was encouraging that Western Australia now had a prioritised framework for reducing the impact of cats on our native animals.
“Through the new program, land managers will be able to adopt research findings and reduce the threat that cats pose to native species in in this State.”
Former Governor of Western Australian Hon. Kerry Sanderson AC CVO has been appointed as the inaugural Chair of the Group and will lead the translation of research findings into effective on-ground outcomes. The National Feral Cat Taskforce and the Western Australian Biosecurity Council will be key allies in ensuring the Group maximises its impact.
“It is important that we all work together to enhance the conservation of our native animals. I look forward to leading a truly collaborative body that brings together diverse stakeholders so we can address agreed gaps in knowledge, improve knowledge sharing, and enable the adoption of research findings to mitigate cat impacts,” said Kerry Sanderson.
Despite vast research and control efforts to date, managing feral cats remains challenging, with no single, consistently effective control method available, and local context being critical to management outcomes.
The Working Group was identified as a priority action at the expert panel workshop that followed the 2018 WA Feral Cat Symposium, run by the Peel-Harvey Catchment Council. The Symposium bought together nearly 200 people from across Australia to tackle the complex issue of protecting WA’s native animals, through effective, humane feral cat control. The interim working group, with representatives of the Peel-Harvey Catchment Council, The Western Australian Biodiversity Science Institute, Bush Heritage and the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions have worked together to establish the Group.
The Western Australian Biodiversity Science Institute led a 12-month consultation process with stakeholders representing Indigenous ranger groups, community organisations, industry, government and science experts, to ensure that all voices were heard. The program will deliver new scientific knowledge and enable the translation of new insights into practical guidance that will help shift practice across private and public landholdings.
According to experts, cats are the single biggest threat to our native animals, killing more than 2.2 billion birds, reptiles and mammals across the country every year and having contributed to 27 animal extinctions.
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