The involvement of deputy directors Sarah Legge and John Woinarski in the Threatened Species Commissioner’s Feral Cat Taskforce is another example of the
Hub contributing significantly to threatened species policy and management.
This Taskforce is made up of representatives from every state and territory government, as well as Natural Resource Management organisations, the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, the RSPCA, the National Environmental Science Programme and Threatened Species Scientific Committee representatives, the Invasive Species Council and Invasive Animals Cooperative Research Centre.
One of the Hub’s key contributions to this Taskforce for the next six months is to assess the size of the feral cat population in Australia, and interpret this in the context of the feral cat management targets.
Hub personnel will also support the Australian Government Department of the Environment to develop measurement tools to monitor the culling of feral cats across Australia.
“The feral cat taskforce is a great opportunity for the Hub to identify research gaps, as well as opportunities to collaborate with agencies responsible for managing feral cats,” said Doctor Sarah Legge.
“The Hub places a strong emphasis on connecting research with land managers and delivery agencies and this is a great forum for strengthening these connections, and also to work with the Government to support the delivery of the Threatened Species Strategy.”
All the work being carried out in Project 1.1 involves collaborations with land management agencies, and some work also involves NGOs like the Australian Wildlife Conservancy, as well as the private sector.
For example, the Western Australian Government is working with Rio Tinto to deliver a large-scale feral cat control program in the Pilbara, and the Hub is adding to that effort with some focussed research on the effects of feral cat baiting and responses by the threatened northern quolls.
Image: Feral cat in Western Australia (Flickr CC BY NC ND 2.0)
The Threatened Species Recovery Hub is receiving an additional $2 million to deliver research and scientific advice to help support wildlife and habitat recovery efforts following Australia’s bushfire crisis. The rapid rollout of meetings and expert workshops that were planned as part of this response now faces the added and acute challenge of COVID-19.
Predation by cats is a key threat to at least 123 threatened species in Australia. Better understanding and reducing the impact of feral cats on susceptible wildlife has been a major area of research for the Threatened Species Recovery Hub. Hub Deputy Directors Professors Sarah Legge and John Woinarski take a look at our research to address Australia’s cat problem.
The 2019–20 bushfires have been extensive and – in some areas – of very high severity. Many threatened species have had most of their distributions burnt, and fire is likely to have imperilled many species not previously considered threatened. One of the post-fire challenges to population recovery that many native species will face is increased risk of predation, including by introduced foxes and cats.
Australia has many unique small- to medium-sized mammals, which are vulnerable to predation by cats and foxes, two carnivores introduced to the continent with European arrival. For many of these species, effective conservation means heavy or total suppression of cats and/or foxes.
Oliver Tester from the Office of the Threatened Species Commissioner tells us about the Australian Government’s action on feral cats.