Across Australia and globally, cats are much loved and cherished pets. At the same time, they are also a challenging environmental issue, with predation by cats being a major threat to native wildlife, including culturally significant species. AMRRIC’s work recognises this dual role of cats in Australia – our efforts to humanely control cat populations through surgical desexing and community education aim to balance animal (cat and wildlife) health and welfare within the unique context of remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
Given this focus, AMRRIC’s Scientific Communications Officer was pleased to be part of a packed auditorium of over 250 people at the second WA Feral Cat Symposium in Perth. The symposium aimed to share knowledge, successes and failures on cat management in Australia, with the theme “Progress with meaningful, on-ground management of feral cats to benefit our native species”. Key topics included:
- Feral cats and people: cat legislation and social licence;
- Improved and emerging management techniques;
- Cats in the environment: impacts on species and the landscape;
- Threatened species management and success stories; and
- Managing predators in a complex environment: interactive threats.
With AMRRIC recording growing cat populations in many communities, the symposium was a timely opportunity to connect with researchers, Indigenous rangers, conservation groups, government staff and management tool developers to share the results of our data collation on cats in northern Australia. It was wonderful to meet some of the 18 Indigenous ranger groups at the symposium, and hear about cat management approaches being used as an integral part of looking after threatened species such as the ninu (greater bilby) and tjakura (great desert skink).
For management purposes, we usually consider cats in Australia in different categories. Commonly used categories are domestic and feral cats. With remoteness being a major barrier to accessing basic animal health and veterinary services in remote Indigenous communities, non-desexed domestic cats breed and contribute to the feral cat population.
AMRRIC actively collaborates with remote Indigenous communities to improve the management of domestic cat populations and reduce the level of transfer to feral cat populations, particularly in areas of high biodiversity significance. As part of our commitment to evidencing One Health linkages through culturally and contextually appropriate research, AMRRIC also actively seeks to develop relationships enabling collaborative partnerships with the environmental science, human health and social science sectors; please get in contact with us if you wish to discuss in more detail.
AMRRIC extends its sincere thanks and congratulations to the WA Feral Cat Working Group for organising this fantastic event.