Friends of Grasslands
supporting native grassy ecosystems
PO Box 440
Macquarie ACT 2614
Environment, Planning and Sustainable Development Directorate
GPO Box 158
Canberra City ACT 2601
Draft ACT Cat Plan 2019-2029
Friends of Grasslands (FOG) is a community group dedicated to the conservation of natural temperate grassy ecosystems in south-eastern Australia. 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’s conservation focus includes native fauna like the Grassland Earless Dragon, Pink Tailed Worm Lizard and a number of threatened birds foraging in our grassy woodlands. Our comments on the draft ACT Cat Plan follow.
STRATEGY 2: IMPROVE COMPLIANCE AND ENFORCEMENT OF CAT LAWS
How important is compliance and enforcement in relation to desexing, microchipping and cat containment?
For cat containment to work in reducing impacts on wildlife, both compliance and enforcement are very important and need to be resourced adequately. While many of our conservation laws are potentially effective, in practice they often fall down because of inadequate resources allocated to compliance and enforcement, and cat containment is unlikely to be any different.
STRATEGY 3: REDUCE NUMBER OF SEMI-OWNED AND UNOWNED DOMESTIC CATS
FOG supports all of the proposed actions to reduce the number of semi-owned and unowned domestic cats. Even if not completely feral, these cats are likely to prey on native fauna and have a significant negative environmental impact.
STRATEGY 5: EXPAND CAT CONTAINMENT
The ACT Government has committed to investigate options for expanding cat containment areas in the ACT. How can cat containment areas most effectively be expanded? Options include:
A. Phasing-in approach – gradually add additional suburbs over time
B. Grandfathered approach – require newly owned cats to be contained
C. Blanket approach – declare all established suburbs cat containment at the one time at a set future date.
FOG’s view is that cat containment should extend across the whole of the ACT as soon as possible.
We are totally opposed to a grandfathering approach (option B) for two reasons. One is that it will be impossible to ensure compliance in a suburb if some cats are allowed to roam freely and others are supposed to be contained. The other is that it will be many years before there are no longer cats alive that were grandfathered, and those cats will continue to impact on native fauna for a long time.
Options A and C are the better approaches, provided they are implemented within a reasonably short timeframe. Option C treats the whole community the same in terms of an implementation date, and probably have less community confusion as to what areas are cat contained. If option A were adopted instead, it must include all established suburbs over time and initially should include all established bordering nature reserves and open space with native vegetation (e.g. Harrison adjacent to Mulligans Flat and Casey abutting Kinlyside Nature Reserve), as well as all new suburbs. It is essential that all new suburbs be declared as cat containment areas.
STRATEGY 6: REDUCE IMPACTS OF FERAL CATS
Should the impact of feral cats be listed under the ACT Nature Conservation Act 2014 as a threat to the environment?
FOG’s response to this is definitely yes. There is plenty of scientific evidence about the impact of predation by feral cats on our native fauna. Feral cats are listed as a key threatening process under the Commonwealth’s EPBC Act and have been declared pests nationally. The ACT need to recognise the major impact feral cats have and list them as a threatening process under ACT legislation also.
STRATEGY 7: ENGAGE RURAL LANDHOLDERS IN IMPROVED CAT MANAGEMENT
While recognizing that cats have a role in control of vermin in rural areas, we consider it essential that options for expanding cat containment to rural areas be considered (action 25) and that other pest control methods be investigated.
31 May 2019