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This week I received data back from RMIT University on Australia’s National Feral Cat Management Survey commissioned for our#ThreatenedSpecies Strategy. The survey is the first time Australia has ever built a picture of our efforts to control #FeralCats. It establishes a baseline for measuring and improving our performance going forward.
According to the survey, an estimated 211,000 feral cats were culled in 2015-16. That's 61,000 more than the Threatened Species Strategy's target of 150,000 feral cats culled nationally in the first year of our Action Plan.
The survey shows the very significant efforts of Australians controlling feral cats to protect our native wildlife. More than half of those culling feral cats were professional land managers, ecologists or conservationists. One quarter were farmers. Some key statistics from the survey were:
• 96% felt feral cats are bad for wildlife and cause native species declines
• For over 80%, damage to wildlife was the main reason they chose to cull feral cats
• Less than 0.03% of people felt feral cats had a right to belong in the Australian environment
• More than half were aware that feral cats spread diseases dangerous to humans
• More than a third noticed an increase in native wildlife resulting from their efforts at feral cat control
• Shooting was the most common form of control
In terms of our future efforts, a key take-home for me is making sure that feral cat culling benefits our native species most in need. There is potential, for example, to scale up feral cat culling in remote areas where many of our most endangered mammals are still holding on, and to support Indigenous peoples in these places to hunt feral cats as a low-cost and high-benefit form of control. Survey participants felt the most important things to incentivise more culling of feral cats were greater public acceptance of the need to cull feral cats, strengthening state and local government laws, and better access to information about effective control methods.
Thanks to the more than 3,000 people who completed the survey. It has helped us build a better picture of national efforts to control #FeralCats and save our wildlife. Culling #FeralCats is not pleasant. But it is absolutely necessary to save our wildlife from harm and #extinction. As a result of this survey, we now have a better baseline to measure progress in the Threatened Species Strategy targets to humanely, effectively and justifiably cull feral cats in the fight against #extinction.