A new working group has been officially launched in an effort to control feral cats throughout Western Australia.
Established on April 6, the Western Australian Feral Cat Working Group will help to reduce the devastation of native animals by cat predation by facilitating a collective approach.
Cats are the single biggest threat to Australia's native animals.
According to experts, they kill more than 2.2 billion birds, reptiles and mammals across the country every year and have contributed to 27 animal extinctions.
I'm thrilled to launch this community-led initiative to bring people together to look at landscape scale options to protect WA's biodiversity through effective feral cat management.Minister for Agriculture and Food Alannah MacTiernan
In December 2018, a feral cat killed dozens of endangered birds in the City of Mandurah.
The cat is believed to have killed 40 chicks and at least five adult fairy terns at a local sanctuary.
Managing feral cats has been a consistent challenge across Western Australia, prompting the state government to declare feral cats as pests in WA in June last year.
The working group, made up of representatives from the Peel-Harvey Catchment Council (PHCC), Western Australian Biodiversity Science Institute, Bush Heritage Australia and Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions, will work closely with the National Feral Cat Taskforce and the Western Australian Biosecurity Council.
The group will provide easily accessible information on feral cat management and help guide the implementation of a new research program to address knowledge gaps and enhance management.
Minister for Agriculture and Food Alannah MacTiernan said a prioritised framework would reduce the impact of cats on Western Australia's native animals.
"In 2018 our government listed feral cats as a pest under the Biosecurity and Agriculture Management Act," she said.
"I'm thrilled to launch this community-led initiative to bring people together to look at landscape scale options to protect WA's biodiversity through effective feral cat management."
Environment Minister Stephen Dawson described the move as encouraging.
"Through the new program, land managers will be able to adopt research findings and reduce the threat that cats pose to native species in in this state," he said.
Former West Australian governor Kerry Sanderson has been appointed the inaugural chair of the group and will lead the translation of research findings into effective, on-ground outcomes.
Ms Sanderson said it was important to work together to enhance the conservation of native animals.
"I look forward to leading a truly collaborative body that brings together diverse stakeholders so we can address agreed gaps in knowledge, improve knowledge sharing, and enable the adoption of research findings to mitigate cat impacts," she said.
The Working Group was identified as a priority action at an expert panel workshop in 2018 run by the PHCC.
The workshop was part of the WA Feral Cat Symposium designed to bring hundreds of experts together from across Australia to tackle the complex issue of protecting local native animals through effective, humane feral cat control.
For more information, visit the PHCC website or the Western Australian Biodiversity Science Institute website.