The Australian Government recognises feral cats are a serious vertebrate pest in Australia that have severe to devastating effects on native fauna. The Government has long recognised predation by feral cats as a threat to Australian fauna with a listing as a key threatening process under the Endangered Species Protection Act 1992 and inclusion on the list of Key Threatening Processes of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 at commencement. A statutory Threat Abatement Plan was made with its most recent iteration in 2015.
National leadership on the management of feral cats was spearheaded by the Threatened Species Strategy’s (2015) feral cat targets and supported by the Threat Abatement Plan for predation by feral cats. The Australian Government is investing in improving knowledge about feral cats and developing control tools for their management, including investment of over $3.24 million in research on feral cats via the first National Environmental Science Program which has deepened our understanding of where cats live, what they eat and how to effectively control them. The Government has also mobilised more than $7.2 million to support the development of new feral cat control tools like the Curiosity bait for feral cats and Felixer Grooming Trap. The Australian Government also invests directly in on-ground interventions to manage predation by feral cats. Action is focused on delivery of recovery actions for species listed under the EPBC Act such as those that are threatened or migratory, or where the Commonwealth has responsibility for management such as the Parks estate. This is supported through programs such as the National Landcare Program and Environment Restoration Fund. Examples of on-ground action include the eradication of feral cats from islands, building fenced reserves and deployment of traps around critical threatened species populations.
The National Feral Cat Taskforce, established and chaired by the Threatened Species Commissioner, provides a forum for all governments and feral cat experts to effectively collaborate on strategies and action for both feral and domestic cats. However, 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 Australian Government remains committed to playing its part through the revision of the Threat abatement plan for predation by feral cats to guide investment and effort, and through partnering on strategic research and on-ground action to minimise the spread and impacts of feral cats.
The new Threatened Species Strategy 2021-2031 and five-year Action Plan is a pathway forward for prioritising action and investment, setting the direction for efforts including on feral cat management, building on the previous work undertaken by the department.
The Australian Government agrees or agrees-in-part to recommendations 1, 2, 3, 4, and agrees to parts of recommendations 5 and 6. The Australian Government will use a combination of extended effort through existing mechanisms and new initiatives to delivery action to reduce the impacts of predation by feral cats and assist local governments and communities to instigate best practice domestic cat management.