The National Parks Association of NSW (NPA) welcomes Threatened Species Commissioner Gregory Andrew’s call to keep cats indoors to protect wildlife.
This is a bold intervention, and one that would certainly help to reduce predation from cats on our native wildlife, particularly in urban and peri-urban areas.
For this to be really effective, though, it needs to be part of a bigger picture plan. All levels of government need to be committed and it needs to be properly funded.
For example, councils could tackle known feral cat ‘hotspots’, state government could be responsible for regulating the desexing of pet cats, and the commonwealth could drive a national cat registration scheme.
And community education about the impact of cats needs to underpin all of these measures.
Preventing domestic cats from augmenting the feral population is a logical strategy and should help to slow the population growth.
It is particularly important that cats on the urban – bushland fringe do not roam into bushland and kill wildlife.
Developers and planners have a role to play here: new developments could incorporate cat enclosures where cats could have outdoor time without threatening native species.
Of course, most feral cats now come from the breeding of wild cats, not domestic escapees.
Therefore measures like this cannot replace long-term solutions such as rewilding with dingoes, and other investment in research and development of innovative solutions to supplement traditional control methods to protect threatened populations.
Dr Oisín Sweeney and Kevin Evans, Nationals Parks Association of NSW