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April 6, 2020

New research program to help mitigate cat impacts on biodiversity

A new research program, released today by The Western Australian Biodiversity Science Institute (WABSI) entitled “Increasing knowledge to mitigate cat impacts on biodiversity”, will focus on addressing knowledge gaps that were identified by end users, as the key priorities for Western Australia.

The vision of the program is to enhance the conservation of native species in Western Australia through improved management of cats, by addressing priority knowledge gaps.

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.”

Dr Ian Cresswell, Chair of The Western Australian Biodiversity Science Institute stated: “We have undertaken a 12-month consultation process with a wide range of stakeholders including 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 improve biodiversity outcomes across private and public landholdings. Our hope is that over time all land managers will be able to adopt our research findings and reduce the threat that cats pose to native species in Western Australia.”

WA Chief Scientist Professor Peter Klinken opening one of the workshops during the 12-month consultation process, led by WABSI. Image: Preeti Castle

The prioritised framework in the new research program provides a guide for the development of research activities and will facilitate complementarity and collaboration, rather than duplication of research effort.

When delivered, the program will help Western Australia to strengthen its role as a national leader in delivering innovative solutions for cat control, and will facilitate a unified approach to addressing knowledge shortfalls for what is truly a cross-tenure issue of relevance to the entire nation.

A newly established WA Feral Cat Working Group will help guide the implementation of a new research program, and will make information on feral cat management easily available to end users, to enable the translation of research findings into effective on-ground outcomes.

Black-flanked rock wallaby. Image: Bruce Webber

The numbers of animals lost to cat predation each year are astonishing in their magnitude – in excess of 2.2 billion birds, reptiles and mammals across the country. They have been a major factor in 27 animal extinctions in Australia and continue to threaten many more.

Where cats have been effectively controlled in the State there have been noticeable benefits for native fauna. Even so, managing cats remains challenging, with no single, consistently effective control method available, and local context being critical to management outcomes.

Contact

Media contact: Preeti Castle, Strategic Engagement Director, preeti.castle@wabsi.org.au

For more information about the research program, click here or contact Dr Bruce Webber, Program Director: bruce.webber@wabsi.org.au

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