Predation by feral cats is one of the greatest threats facing Australia’s unique and irreplaceable fauna. In April, Australia’s leading feral cat researchers and managers met at the 2015 National Feral Cat Workshop to determine how to effectively protect our native fauna through feral cat management. The outcomes and recommendations from the workshop are released via the invasive animals CRC website.
Better information on impacts; improved monitoring and use of technology; development of traps and control tools; strategic, long-term management; and a national engagement strategy were identified as priority areas for future work.
“Managing the impacts of feral cats is a challenging task” said Andreas Glanznig, the CEO of the Invasive Animals CRC. “The outcomes from the workshop are an excellent statement of what we currently know about managing feral cats and, more importantly, where we need to go in the future to ensure the survival of many of Australia’s threatened species.”
Feral cats are a major driver of extinction of Australian native wildlife. More than 75 species are currently under threat from predation by feral cats. There are very few techniques available that can be used to control them over broad areas.
As well as being a threat to native wildlife, the workshop showed that feral cats also impact on agricultural production. They carry parasites that can cause diseases such as toxoplasmosis and sarcosporidiosis in livestock, which then impacts on farm productivity.
“Managing feral cats is no longer just the concern of government conservation departments. Many non-government organisations are managing the impacts of feral cats on their reserves and actively being involved and collaborating in research on better ways to effectively manage feral cats” said Mr Glanznig.
The 2015 National Feral Cat workshop highlighted that there is a need for collaborative efforts between researchers, managers and the community to tackle the problem.
“There is no silver bullet for feral cat management. There needs to be a concerted and long term effort using a variety of current techniques as well as developing new and novel techniques to ensure that the impacts of feral cats on native species are reduced” said Professor Chris Dickman, a leading expert on feral cats from the University of Sydney.
“We need to focus on the impacts that cats are having and ensure that those impacts are reduced to safeguard the continued survival of many native species and protect livestock”.
The Invasive Animals CRC is supported by the Australian Government’s Business Cooperative Research Centres Programme
Image by: Leigh Deutsche
This story was first published in Leading Agriculture magazine.