Feral control ‘vital’

By David Kavanagh | posted on June 21, 2019

A GROUP set up to combat the impact of feral cats in the Great Southern convened for the first time last week, days before the State Government officially declared the animals a pest.

The June 10 inaugural meeting of the Feral Cat Working Group brought together representatives of more than a dozen stakeholders from Albany and surrounding areas with the intention of developing strategies to control the pest animal’s population.

Oyster Harbour Catchment Group Project Officer Jenni Loveland, who coordinated the effort, said the working group would meet at least four times each year and present a united front to the issue.

“This is a way for us to bring all of our knowledge and experience together, the things that work and the things that don’t work,” she said.

“Collaboration is really important here because while there are many groups doing amazing work in this field, we’re not necessarily sharing that information.”

According to the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, 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.

Minister for Agriculture and Food Alannah MacTiernan said while she acknowledged feral cat control was an “uncomfortable topic”, the community had an obligation to protect native wildlife.

The sentiment was mirrored by Environment Minister Stephen Dawson who described efforts to control feral predators as a “vital part of ensuring the survival” of native animals.

According to Ms Loveland, the government’s announcement would make it easier for the currently unfunded working group to apply for important grants.

“Anything declared is looked at first above most other things,” she said.

“We’re applying for a State National Resource Management grant just basically to keep the group running for the next year.”

She said the group hoped to have implemented a number of groundwork strategies by 2021.

That would include education campaigns and developing culling methods in line with RSPCA recommendations.