Project Noah: inquiry floats mission to keep feral cats at bay

More fenced areas are needed to protect native wildlife from rampant predation by feral or stray cats, a federal parliamentary inquiry has advised.

Domestic and feral cats are killing three billion native animals yearly, a “horrifying” statistic that equates to a kill rate of more than 1100 per cat per year, inquiry chairman Ted O’Brien said in a media statement last week.

“This is why we need a new national conservation mission called ‘Project Noah’ aimed at expanding Australia’s network of predator-free fenced areas and islands,” he said.

“[This] would bring together the expertise and resources of governments, communities, the private sector and philanthropic groups to protect threatened native species from predation.”

Mr O’Brien said a “reset” of the Commonwealth’s current policy in regard to cats was needed – with local governments resourced appropriately to deal with cats, including developing and implementing domestic cat management plans consistent with relevant state and territory laws.

Regarding managing and controlling domestic cats, the inquiry report recommended new strategies and measures such as increased support for desexing, registration and microchipping, a consideration of night curfews, and a national cat ownership education campaign. 

In its submission to the inquiry, ALGA said there was a lack of public awareness and education in relation to the feral and domestic cat problem. This had led, in part, to states overturning cat bylaws introduced by local government, despite the councils consulting their communities beforehand.

The submission recommended more funding to raise awareness of cat impacts, harmonised state and territory cat laws, greater regulation of cat micro-chipping protocols (including establishing a national microchip register), and greater resources for cat control research and programs as well as support for councils in this area.