Mandurah feral cat bird-killings sparks ownership discussions

Fears for birds: Claire Greenwell said the city had a responsibility to protect the vulnerable species, part of a Mandurah breeding program which started two years ago. Photo: Cherilyn Corker.
Fears for birds: Claire Greenwell said the city had a responsibility to protect the vulnerable species, part of a Mandurah breeding program which started two years ago. Photo: Cherilyn Corker.

A Mandurah feral cat believed to have killed 15 chicks and five adult fairy terns in the last week has sparked council and resident discussions on irresponsible cat ownership. 

Councillors were briefed on the incident by Claire Greenwell and Rebecca Casswells at the Committee of Council meeting on December 4.

Ms Greenwell said the city had a responsibility to protect the vulnerable species, part of a Mandurah breeding program which started two years ago. 

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“If we can’t control pets, Mandurah can’t have a fairy tern colony and we should discourage them landing here because we can’t keep them safe,” she said.  

The feral cat, believed to be large and white from public reports, entered the sanctuary on at least two occasions and killed the birds, leaving tracks and faecal deposits. 

Ms Greenwell said a number of the chicks might not survive after adult birds abandoned their nests following the attack.  

They should be destroyed, they are extremely efficient killers.

Coastal Ward councillor Fred Riebeling

Coastal Ward councillor Fred Riebeling said he became “angry” when “irresponsible people” did not control their cats who in turn killed wildlife.  

“They should be destroyed, they are extremely efficient killers,” he said. 

“Cats do huge amounts of damage.

“In my former life as a member of state parliament I advocated for sterilisation of all male cats.”

Mayor Rhys Williams said the city could not control residents’ behaviour. 

“Everyone in this city should be responsible, if we value the environment,” he said.

“Keep cats inside and keep them away from the area.”

On the same night, a resident asked how council was addressing irresponsible cat ownership.

Manager of statutory services Brendan Ingle said they managed a trapping program for residents experiencing problems with stray cats.

Mr Ingle said the city encouraged registration, microchipping and sterilising. 

He said it was hard to issue fines if the owner was unknown. 

City of Mandurah chief executive officer Mark Newman said the incident had been a “terrible setback” for the fairy tern program. 

“We’re asking the local community for their support to help protect this vulnerable species, by keeping their cats indoors until the end of the fairy tern breeding season in late January,” he said.