Lifestyle

Feral cats killing wildlife but no one's acting to stop them

NATURAL-BORN KILLER: A feral cat eats a crimson rosella. Research shows much of Australian species’ decline coincided with the introduction of cats.
NATURAL-BORN KILLER: A feral cat eats a crimson rosella. Research shows much of Australian species’ decline coincided with the introduction of cats. AP Photo Department Of The Environment

A GROWING number of feral cats are running rampant on the Northern Rivers, with no organisation tasked with control measures such as baiting or trapping.

Threatened Species Commissioner Gregory Andrews recently suggested domestic cats should be locked indoors, by law, 24-hours a day to prevent them hunting native wildlife.

Dean Chamberlain, North Coast Local Land Services team leader invasive species, said there was no group in the region dealing with feral cats, which have been proven to kill wildlife at a staggering rate.

Land Services spends a significant amount of time dealing with rising wild dog numbers, but has not been tasked by the State Government to deal with feral cats.

"Feral cats don't fall in anyone's basket," Mr Chamberlain said.

"Councils do offer traps to landholders, but that's the only control I know of.

"There's lots of evidence suggesting they do a lot of damage to native animals."

Mr Chamberlain said Land Services would currently be too stretched to take on the job if asked.

He believed most feral cat groups in the region would have been established for years "rather than just the odd domestic that wanders away".

Mr Chamberlain said the Federal Government's Draft Threat Abatement Plan for Predation by Feral Cats report, released in April, may produce targeted solutions.

It stated cats have become so widespread in Australia that the government's focus was largely on reducing impact, rather than eradication.

WIRES Northern Rivers founding member Sue Ulyatt said the group often dealt with the gruesome effects of cat predation.

This is often due to domestic cats, as owners call when their pet attacks wildlife.

Ms Ulyatt was sure many more native animals have been falling prey to feral cats, but this would likely occur outside populated areas, meaning WIRES was not alerted.

"It's a big problem for wildlife, especially our birds and gliders - any smaller species of native wildlife," she said.

Ms Ulyatt urged the government to undertake control measures, and for cat and dog owners to keep pets indoors from dusk to dawn.

Topics:  cats, feral cats



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