Current and future feral cat management for conservation outcomes

While recognised as a threatening process to the conservation and abundance of native species, predation by feral cats (Felis catus) is not well understood in all Australian ecosystems. Strongest evidence for significant impacts comes from island studies, reintroduction programs and large scale, intensive predator control programs in Western Australia. Despite a growing literature on the diet and movements of feral cats, it is difficult to accurately quantify the threat posed by feral cats to populations of native species and ecosystems, especially in non-arid habitats in eastern Australia. Less equivocal information is needed to determine how predation and competition by feral cats should be ranked as a threatening process in specific instances, and from there, determine appropriate management actions. Our ability to implement suitable investigations, such as predator removal studies, is limited by techniques currently available for feral cat management. Feral cats are one of the few introduced vertebrates that are controlled solely to protect conservation values in Australia – most other vertebrate ‘pests’ also have impacts on agricultural or production values. Techniques such as trapping, shooting and fencing for feral cat control are generally acknowledged as expensive, labour intensive and requiring ongoing commitment to maintain protection for wildlife. While improved control of feral cats is being addressed by the development of target-specific poison and bait, feral cat management in future will be optimised by a combination of techniques that satisfy the criteria of efficacy, cost, public acceptability, humaneness, and target-specificity. The role of existing and potential control techniques in overall feral cat management is discussed.

Author Fisher, P., Algar, D. and Johnston, M.
Date null
Year 2001
Secondary title Veterinary Conservation Biology Wildlife Health and Management in Australasia
Place published Conference Location
Publisher Australian Veterinary Association, Sydney
Pages 31-38
Notes Notes
Region VIC