Friends of Grasslands
supporting native grassy ecosystems
PO Box 440
Macquarie ACT 2614
Canberra and City Services Directorate,
Reference: Draft Animal Welfare and Management Strategy
Friends of Grasslands (FOG) is a community group dedicated to the conservation of natural temperate grassy ecosystems in south-eastern Australia, included related fauna species. FOG advocates, educates and advises on matters to do with the conservation of grassy ecosystems, and carries out surveys and other on-ground work. FOG is based in Canberra and its members include professional scientists, landowners, land managers and interested members of the public.
FOG welcomes this opportunity to comment on the Draft Strategy. Our general comment is the Draft Strategy does not get the right balance between animals kept as domestic pets and stock on the one hand and native and non-native animals living free and their protection/management/control on the other. While in general FOG in general supports the principles in the Draft Strategy concerning domestic pets and stock, it believes that stronger statement could be included about responsible pet ownership.
Cat registration and containment
FOG strongly supports a cat registration system (Action 1.2.4) and considers it long overdue. The beneficial impacts would be cats would be better treated by their owners if they need to go to the trouble of registration and shelling out a fee to do so. This would also provide the ACT government to use the fee for better cat control (including removal) measures and for education of cat owners.
However, FOG would like the policy to go further and extend cat containment to the entire ACT, rather than just those areas adjoining nature reserves such as Kama Nature Reserve (Action 4.1.3). Cats are a major threat to many native species (small mammals, herpetofauna and small birds) that are threatened or declining in Canberra gardens, the ACTís nature reserves and rural areas. Public education especially targeted at cat owners could be of great assistance (Actions 1.4.1, 2.1.1, 4.1.1). In this context, the photo of a cat walking free with its owner (and even the picture of a cute kitten) in the draft strategy is highly inappropriate - photos of responsible cat ownership, or a cat feeding on a native bird, would be more consistent with the theme of the document. Public education should also include information about the proven benefits that cat containment has on cat health.
Discounted registration fees
FOG supports a fee system that provides lower fees for responsible ownership. For example, lower fees could be paid to cat owners who invest in cat enclosures and or who sign up to agreements on cat containment and to pet owners that belong to clubs that actively promote responsible ownership.
The overview for objective 4 could make mention of some of the positive work being done by the ACT government and others in relation to native species, for example the reintroduction and translocation of native species, the Corroboree Frog and Grassland Earless Dragon captive breeding programs, and management of threatened ecosystems to support endangered fauna species.
The reference to kangaroos in the fourth paragraph on page 26 should indicate why populations of Eastern Grey Kangaroos need to be managed, and also make reference to other animals (e.g. deer, brumbies) that need to be removed to prevent negative impacts on native fauna.
In relation to animals in the ACT, FOGís primary concern is the survival and welfare of native animal species that are threatened or declining. We are also concerned about the need to manage humanely animals (both native and non-native) that impact negatively on native vegetation and are a threat to the survival of threatened and declining native fauna species. While the references to the Nature Conservation Act cover this area, FOG thinks that there should be more recognition of the impacts of poor management, pest animals and increasing populations of some native animals on the welfare of endangered and declining animals in section 4 and under outcomes 4.2 and 4.3.
The impact of potential and actual pest species is covered by section 4.2. The impact of controlled (native) species is discussed in section 4.3 by reference to the Nature Conservation Act. However, the need for research into possible over-population of some native species, especially larger and aggressive birds, and to develop strategies for management of non-native bird species is not well covered in the Nature Conservation Strategy and should be included in section 4.3.
21 May 2017