Who is undertaking best practice feral cat management?
Managing feral cats is a tenure-blind issue that crosses all administrative boundaries. To maximise relevance and efficiency, the WAFCWG includes a number of partner organisations all working together to improve our options for managing feral cats.
Western Australia is already a national leader in the management of feral cats, with a range of successes such as the eradication of feral cats from all offshore islands, and the Western Shield program led by DBCA (which includes a bait development program) that delivers feral cat management to around 1.5 million ha per year. Western Australia leads the nation in island eradications, with cats extirpated from 770 km2 across nine islands.
Some of the nation’s most ambitious and extensive baiting, trapping and exclusion fencing programs are taking place in Western Australia, non-government organisations (NGOs), state government and local Indigenous groups, and community initiatives. The issue of cat impacts on biodiversity is particularly pertinent in Western Australia because the State has responsibility for the last few natural populations of many animal species that have disappeared from the rest of their national range (e.g. numbat , banded hare-wallaby, golden-backed tree-rat, rufous hare-wallaby) or otherwise have become particularly imperilled (e.g. Gilbert’s potoroo, night parrot, western ground parrot) largely because of predation by cats (and foxes).
The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) works to develop and protect Western Australia’s agriculture and food sector and aquatic resources, and build vibrant regions with strong economies.
DPIRD protects WA from pests and weeds that impact the economy, social amenity, and natural resources, in partnership with industry, landholders and the wider community. This includes administering the Biosecurity and Agriculture Management Act 2007 (BAM Act), under which pests and weeds can be formally listed as declared pests.
In 2019 DPIRD listed the Feral cat as a declared pest under the BAM Act. This formal recognition makes it easier for State and local government agencies, community groups and others to undertake work on Feral cats and seek funding to support their activities. DPIRD, with DBCA, produced a policy statement and FAQs on what the listing of feral cats means, and how the impacts to domestic cats are minimised. This information is available on the DPIRD website below.
Victoria brings to the WAFCWG her expertise from leading policy, technical, research, and operational pest issues as Director of the Invasive Species and Environment Biosecurity program at DPIRD.
Australian Wildlife Conservancy’s (AWC) vision is a world where Australia’s biodiversity is valued and effectively conserved by an engaged community. This vision is inherently connected to our mission, being ‘the effective conservation of all Australian animal species and the habitats in which they live’.
AWC is the largest private owner and manager of land for conservation in Australia, protecting endangered wildlife across more than 6.5 million hectares in iconic regions such as the Kimberley, Cape York, Kati Thanda-Lake Eyre and the Top End.
AWC is leading the charge against feral cats and foxes by building a network of large feral predator-free fenced havens; conducting best practice predator control beyond the fence (including ground-breaking research into their ecology); conducting research into the impact and ecology of feral cats and foxes, and investing in development of a long-term genetic solution.
Bush Heritage Australia is a national non-profit organisation that buys and manages land to protect our irreplaceable landscapes and our magnificent native species forever.
We buy land that has outstanding conservation values and reconnect fragmented landscapes to protect habitat for wildlife. Bush Heritage works across 19 priority landscapes and owns 37 reserves. In addition, we partner with Aboriginal people and agricultural landowners to achieve conservation outcomes. Currently, Bush Heritage is working across more than 11.3 million hectares, protecting more than 6700 native species and at least 226 endangered species.
We own 37 reserves, work across 11.3 million hectares on our and partners’ land, protecting more than 6700 native species, including at least 226 endangered species.
Our land management actions on reserve and in partnerships are implemented through an adaptive management cycle based on the Open Standard for the Practice of Conservation. These actions include mitigating or reducing threats such as feral cat predation, and are based on best practice, sound science and relevant research.
The Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA) promotes biodiversity and conservation through sustainable management of WA’s species, ecosystems, lands and the attractions in our care.
DBCA manages around 31.6 million hectares of lands and waters for conservation and other purposes. This includes 26.9 million hectares of land (102 national parks, 11 regional parks, State forest, conservation parks, nature reserves and other reserves) and 4.7 million hectares of water (17 marine parks, one marine nature reserve and two marine management areas). We are also responsible for managing pest animals and weeds across around 91.4 million hectares of unallocated Crown land and unmanaged Crown reserves, outside Perth and townsites and within available resources. [Note: figures current at 30 June 2020.]
DBCA is the lead State Government agency in WA for the development and delivery of tools for feral cat management and holds significant knowledge and experience in feral cat research and delivery of these operational tools.
Under the Western Shield program, during 2020-21, DBCA delivered around 511,000 Eradicat feral cat baits over more than one million hectares of conservation estate.
DBCA have been responsible for the design and development of the feral cat bait Eradicat.
DBCA is the sole manufacturer and supplier of Eradicat baits in Australia from its facility in Harvey.
Eradication of feral cats from five WA islands; including Dirk Hartog Island, which is the largest island globally where feral cats have been successfully eradicated. There are no other WA islands where feral cats are present.
The Biosecurity Council of Western Australia is a specialist advisory group to the Minister for Agriculture and Food and the Director General of the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development.
The Biosecurity Council of Western Australia (the Council) was established under the Biosecurity and Agriculture Management Act 2007 as a specialist advisory group to the Minister for Agriculture and Food and the Director General of the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development on any matter related to biosecurity.
In particular, the Council may provide advice on:
- the requirements of a comprehensive and effective biosecurity system for Western Australia, including necessary linkages to other biosecurity systems, and significant gaps in or improvements required to the system.
- opportunities to improve cooperation and collaboration on biosecurity matters.
- opportunities to improve awareness, support for biosecurity objectives.
- matters referred to the Council by the Minister or the Director General.
The Indigenous Desert Alliance (IDA) plays a vital role in securing the future health of the desert and its people by strengthening the existing connections between desert people, empowering desert people to look after their country and by connecting the desert story with the story of our country. The IDA is committed to supporting Indigenous land managers and rangers working on desert country by, enabling rangers to speak with one strong voice for the desert, supporting capacity building for desert ranger teams, enhancing regional project collaboration and inspiring other desert groups to create strong ranger teams.
The IDA has 18 member organisations, it works with over 60 ranger teams, it manages the 10 Deserts Project and runs the Ranger Development Program, it’s head office is in Perth but has staff presence in Alice springs, Geraldton and Broome.
The Kiwirrkurra Rangers represent the IDA on WAFCWG. They are experts in using traditional tracking and hunting techniques to control feral cats. Over the past five years the Kiwirrkurra Rangers have removed 200 feral cats from priority habitat for bilby and great desert skink. The IDA provides opportunities for other rangers to learn from Rangers with expertise in cat hunting through Ranger Exchanges, on-country Threatened Species festivals (Ninu Festival and the Species of the Desert Festival that focussed on night parrots), and the annual IDA Conference which is attended by more than 200 rangers.
The Western Australian Biodiversity Science Institute (WABSI) is a collaboration mechanism that facilitates partnerships across industry, government, community and researchers to address science knowledge gaps, lift certainty in decisions and improve biodiversity outcomes.
The WABSI research program Mitigating Cat Impacts on Biodiversity underpins the research pillar of the Working Group, providing a framework for the development of research activities and facilitating complementarity and collaboration, rather than duplication of research effort. The end user led program will help Western Australia to strengthen its role as a national leader in delivering innovative solutions for cat control, and will facilitate a unified approach to addressing knowledge shortfalls for what is truly a cross-tenure issue of relevance to the entire nation.
WABSI led the development of a prioritised research program for Western Australia on how to enhance the conservation of native species in the State through improved management of cats.
The National Feral Cat Taskforce, established and chaired by the Australian Government’s Threatened Species Commissioner, provides a forum for governments and feral cat experts to effectively collaborate on strategies and action for feral cats.
The Australian Government alone cannot abate the threat from feral cats. It requires the combined efforts of local, state, territory and Australian governments, together with the actions of landholders, communities, traditional owners, the private sector and non-government organisations who deliver biodiversity protection and conservation.
The taskforce is a national advisory, coordinating and informal oversight group tasked with providing information and support to the Threatened Species Commissioner and the Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment on implementing feral cat management actions.
The Feral Cat Taskforce was formed in 2015 to support the implementation of the first Threatened Species Strategy 2015-2020. Over the 5-year life of the first Threatened Species Strategy, the Threatened Species Commissioner chaired 10 meetings bringing together scientists, non-government organisations, governments and practitioners to share knowledge and focus efforts on supporting more effective feral cat control.
The Threatened Species Strategy 2021-2031 will build on the success of the first Strategy’s focus on feral cats. The national Feral Cat Taskforce will continue to advise on implementing key feral cat actions and targets identified in the Strategy.
The Australian Government continues to support national coordination and the removal of legislative barriers to effective feral cat control through the National Feral Cat Taskforce.
NRMWA is the collaboration of the seven West Australian Natural Resource Management (NRM) regions; Rangelands NRM, Northern Agricultural Catchments Council Perth Region NRM, Peel-Harvey Catchment Council, Wheatbelt NRM, South West Catchment Council and South Coast NRM.
The vision of NRMWA is “Connecting Community, Linking Landscapes” and provides coordination and cooperation between the NRMs, represents the West Australian NRMs nationally on the NRM Regions Australia Board, enables efficiencies through sharing of resources, allows for cross-regional delivery of programs and facilitates State-wide responses to government initiatives.
Western Australia has amazing natural assets which are impacted by feral cats and collectively across the seven 7 NRM’s there are numerous projects being delivered which provide support and resources to groups and landholders in biosecurity management and protection of threatened species and community, through facilitating community and landholder action and applying Traditional Ecological Knowledge. NRMWA is committed to maintaining biodiversity and landscapes and sees the WA Feral Cat Working Group as a key body to ensure feral cat research and on-ground actions are coordinated effectively across the State.
Image credits on this page: Michael Johnston/ Julie Trezise (French Island Landcare Group)