Funds to eradicate feral

By David Kavanagh | posted on November 15, 2019

A GROUP aiming to minimise the impact of feral cats on Albany and surrounds is one step closer to realising its goal after it was awarded a Small Community Stewardship Grant last week.

The Feral Cat Working Group is set to receive a funding boost of around $26,000 from January which it will use to enact a public awareness campaign, conduct research and apply for further grants.

Oyster Harbour Catchment Group Project Officer Jenni Loveland, who helped form the group, said this would likely be followed by coordinated on-ground efforts later in 2020.

“We’ll be starting with the Twin Creeks reserve in the Porongurup region. We’re hoping to do some trapping, baiting and shooting in the area with the help of residents,” she said.

“Once we’ve found out the best way for our region we will hopefully move forward and be able to help other people and Shires implement strategies in their areas.

“We can say this is the strategy that has worked for us, give it a try.”

Ms Loveland noted the group, comprised of 15 stakeholders including various government departments, catchment groups and animal welfare bodies, sought to provide a point for reference for those that need it.

She said in recent months it had begun encouraging the public to register their sightings of feral cats on an app called Feral Scan.

“We don’t have very much research about how many cats are around here. We know they’re there but we need research to find where the best places to work are,” she said.

“The Feral Cat Working Group will eventually have a website where people can click and find useful information. It’s about collecting all the information into one useful database.”

The group was originally established on June 10 this year, several days before the State Government officially declared feral cats a pest.

Its mission statement outlines its focus on protecting native wildlife by investigating feral cat control options, addressing stray cat populations and promoting responsible pet ownership.

“Responsible pet ownership is really a big part of it. We don’t want people to go out and think we’re just about killing cats because we’re not,” Ms Loveland said.

“We’re about dealing with the problems that are causing so many issues in the environment, including feral and stray cats but also other pests like foxes and rabbits.”

According to the Department of Primary Industries, 36 mammals, 22 birds and 11 reptile species in Western Australia are vulnerable to predation by feral cats.

The carnivorous animals have played a major role in the extinction of at least 27 native mammal species around the country and kill approximately 272 million birds per year.

Relevant research papers can be found at the group’s interim website: nullakiconservation.org/feral-cat-links