Peel-Harvey Catchment Council backs state government decision to list feral cats as a declared pest

Sponsors and presenters from the 2018 WA Feral Cat Symposium held in Mandurah. Photo: Supplied.
Sponsors and presenters from the 2018 WA Feral Cat Symposium held in Mandurah. Photo: Supplied.

The Peel-Harvey Catchment Council (PHCC) have thrown their support behind the state government after it was announced feral cats will be listed as a declared pest throughout Western Australia.

The declaration, under the Biosecurity and Agricultural Management Act 2007, will enable natural resource management and recognised biosecurity groups to control feral cats and complement cat control efforts by the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions within State reserves and areas of high conservation value.

The declaration is an effort to strengthen measures to protect vulnerable and threatened native wildlife. In WA, 36 mammal, 22 bird and 11 reptile species are vulnerable to predation by feral cats.

Additionally, the feral cat is host to a number of disease-causing bacteria and viruses.

PHCC chairman Caroline Knight said agriculture and food minister Alannah MacTiernan had "made the right decision".

The collective efforts to protect Western Australia's biodiversity has just had a significant boost.

Peel-Harvey Catchment Council chairman Caroline Knight

"The collective efforts to protect Western Australia's biodiversity has just had a significant boost," she said.

"We are absolutely thrilled that the minister has taken this step, and particularly that the listing is across all land tenures, not just areas managed by the State, as happened in Victoria in 2018."

The local environmental group have long called for feral cats to be legally declared a pest, especially after dozens of endangered fairy terns were killed in Mandurah by a feral cat in 2018.

In 2018, the PHCC ran the WA Feral Cat Symposium which saw nearly 200 people from across Australia come together to tackle the complex issue of protecting WA's native animals, through effective and humane feral cat control.

At an expert panel workshop the following day, a smaller group of key stakeholders gathered and identified the establishment of a WA Feral Cat Working Group as a priority action.

Now that feral cats are a listed pest, PHCC hope to support a collaborative effort through the WA Feral Cat Working Group, community, government, industry and researchers to reach landscape scale solutions in the most humane and cost effective manner.

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While the declaration is only for feral cats, domestic cat owners are encouraged to protect their cats by complying with registration, sterilisation and microchipping rules.

Ms Knight added that there were strategies in place to ensure the impact of feral cat control activities on domestic and stray cats was minimal.

"We do need to be very clear that this is about feral cats, not domestic or stray cats, they are covered under the Cat Act 2011 and that is a different conversation," she said.

"This is about feral cats and the collaborative efforts of community to reduce the catastrophic impacts to our native animals.

"We look forward to a future where our native animals can come out from behind protective fences and once again be a part of our landscape and thank the WA government for taking this step."