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July 11, 2019

Unifying feral cat control efforts

The Western Australian Government recently declared feral cats as a pest under section 22(2) of the WA Biosecurity and Agriculture Management Act 2007 (BAM Act). This declaration provides an opportunity to help improve collaborative management methods across Western Australia.

WABSI has been working with several stakeholders over the past year to progress the formation of a working group to unify feral cat control efforts and help address knowledge gaps.

We are now leading the development of a research program of work that will help enhance knowledge.

Feral cats live and reproduce in the wild, surviving by hunting and scavenging. There are however, significant knowledge gaps about the efficiency, effectiveness, off-target impacts, and humaneness of control methods. Such information is critical to enable collaborative management and improve feral cat control across Western Australia.

A national symposium was hosted by Peel Harvey Catchment Council (PHCC) in 2018, followed by three workshops, where WABSI worked with PHCC, researchers, regulators and end users to identify and prioritise research needs. 

PHCC and WABSI, along with the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions and Bush Heritage, have been working to progress efforts through a working group, via a peer endorsed, interim steering committee.  A draft term of reference exists, together with endorsement from the WA Biosecurity Council and the National Feral Cat Taskforce, to develop the idea of the WA working group into a functional delivery vehicle.

There are approximately 2.07 million feral cats in natural environments across Australia.  According to experts, around 720,000 feral cats consume 500 million native birds, reptiles and mammals across Western Australia, each year.  Feral cats are also host to many disease-causing bacteria and viruses, with more than 100 pathogens recognised, 30 of which are also recorded in native mammal species. 

For more information contact Dr Bruce Webber, WABSI Program Director, Ecosystems Processes and Threat Mitigation

Other news: Mitigating feral cat impacts on biodiversity

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