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)
New Hub research has quantified the extent of predation by cats on Australia’s birds and identified the species and types of birds most vulnerable to cats. The team found that cats kill over 1 million birds per day in Australia. The total is made up of an estimated 316 million birds killed by feral cats and 61 million killed by pet cats each year.
Sound recorders have been installed across farm land in south-western Victoria and on Kangaroo Island in research to help threatened glossy black-cockatoos and south-eastern red-tailed black-cockatoos, by learning more about their breeding.
As cats and foxes have spread across Australia, islands have prevented the extinctions of several mammals like the boodie. Associate Professor Sarah Legge discusses the importance of safe havens and also summarizes the highlights of a recent 'safe-haven' symposium held at the International Mammalogy Congress in Perth.
The TSR Hub is one of six National Environmental Science Programme hubs and each is making its own important contribution to the national effort to recover our threatened species. Hub Director Brendan Wintle takes a look beyond the TSR Hub to highlight the good work being done on threatened species by our sister hubs.
On sub-Antarctic Macquarie Island a multi-million dollar eradication program removed cats in 2000 and rabbits, rats and mice in 2013. In the aftermath of this effort, beautiful things are emerging. Dr Justine Shaw is leading a TSR Hub project to learn from this experience and monitor how ecosystems respond.