National feral and domestic cat inquiry to investigate impact of 'predatory carnivores'

Picture: Shutterstock
Picture: Shutterstock

The impact of feral and domestic cats on Australia's native wildlife and habitats will be investigated as part of a new federal parliamentary inquiry.

As the probe got under way on Tuesday, chair of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on the Environment and Energy, Ted O'Brien, said it would take a national approach to the problem, which was more far-reaching than many people might believe.

"We're not talking about loveable, lasagne-loving, lazy cats like Garfield, but rather predatory carnivores that hunt and kill endangered native animals," Mr O'Brien said.

"We plan to assess their prevalence and impact, the effectiveness of current control measures and the interaction between domestic cat ownership and the feral cat problem."

In May, a detailed analysis conducted by a range of experts found that feral cats collectively kill more than three billion Australian animals each year.

Not only have cats played a leading role in most of Australia's 34 mammal extinctions since 1788, but pet cats are wreaking havoc, too.

The study revealed that, on average, each roaming pet cat kills 186 reptiles, birds and mammals per year, most of them native to Australia.

Under the terms of reference, the new federal inquiry will also look at:

  • The effectiveness of Commonwealth action and co-operation with states and territories;
  • The efficacy, cost effectiveness and use of current and emerging methods and tools for controlling feral cats, including baiting, the establishment of feral cat-free areas using conservation fencing, gene drive technology;
  • The efficacy of import controls for high-risk domestic cat varieties to prevent the impacts of feral and domestic cats, including on native wildlife and habitats;
  • Public awareness and education in relation to the feral and domestic cat problem; and
  • The interaction between domestic cat ownership and the feral cat problem, and best practice approaches to the keeping of domestic cats in this regard.

Submissions can be made until July 30 via the committee's website.