In July 2015, a man who had killed more than 40,000 feral cats was sentenced to a minimum of four years in jail for cruelty to animals after he was caught on camera killing the creatures on a property in Melbourne’s south-east.
The incident, which occurred in February 2016, is one of a number of incidents in which people have used equipment to hunt and catch feral cats.
In June this year, a Tasmanian man pleaded guilty to a charge of cruelty to a domestic animal after he accidentally shot a stray cat and was caught by a neighbour.
It was the second time a Tasmanians man had been caught on film in the state.
A third Tasmanian was also caught on video on an illegal trap in January this year.
‘Tough love’ The Australian Crime Commission (ACCC) said it would continue to “push for tougher legislation on capturing feral cats and the owners of such facilities”.
“We will continue to work closely with the Department of Environment, Parks and Wildlife to develop a strategy for the capture and return of feral cats,” it said.
“Our focus will be on protecting and stabilising feral cats in areas where they pose a threat to human health and welfare.
If you’re interested in hunting feral cats, please contact the ACCC on 1300 650 789 or email [email protected]”
The ACCC also warned that feral cats were highly adaptable, and that they would “come out of the bush to find a mate and raise young”.
A report in July last year from the Institute of Wildlife Research (IWR) recommended that people be trained to shoot feral cats to kill them, as a “preventative measure”.
However, the ACMA said the training could be “difficult, expensive and time-consuming”.
“There are a number factors that may impact on the success of the training programme,” the ACMCA said in its 2016 wildlife crime policy.
According to IWR’s director David Wilson, there were “significant differences” in the effectiveness of traditional methods.
Wilson said “the training of wildlife management officers is a key component” of the IWR report, which also recommended the use of live baits to catch feral and other feral animals.
He said the new research was also encouraging.
“We are now seeing evidence that some people do actually have the training to do it,” he said.
“That’s a really good sign.”
‘No tolerance’ In June this 2016, a feral cat was caught killing an antelope in Victoria.
A cat named Goliath was caught in a bushland area on the east coast of Victoria.
A local farmer called on the authorities to kill the cat, saying it had attacked his cow.
Victoria Police confirmed the incident, but said the cat had not been shot.
But a local animal welfare group said the incident showed that the Victorian Government’s “no tolerance” attitude to feral cats meant “the feral cat issue is not going away”.
The Cats Protection League said the feral cat “had been shot in the face by a police officer” in Victoria in June 2016.
And a Victorian Government inquiry into feral cats concluded in December that it was “a very serious problem” in some areas.
Cat expert Michael Jervis from the University of New South Wales said the Victorian Department of Agriculture and Fisheries was “trying to be tough” when it came to feral cat capture and killing.
Mr Jervs said feral cat owners “have to be very cautious”.
“We’ve seen it happen many times, so you have to be extremely careful,” he told RN Breakfast.
However he said feral cats could “go on a rampage” and could be a “threat to humans”.
Mr Wilson said the evidence “is very clear” that people were “not being very tough” on feral cats when it comes to capturing them.
There was no evidence of “tough love” in trapping feral cats Mr Wilson said.
But he said the ACT government should be doing more to “advance the eradication of feral cat populations”.
It is not known how many feral cats have been captured in Victoria, but according to an analysis by the Victoria Wildlife Trust, there are “probably” around 15,000.
Dr Jervus said that in many areas, feral cats “wouldn’t bother you” but in others, “there would be an immediate threat”.
But he did not see the ACT’s “toughen up” approach as having “much” to do with the numbers of feral animals, and said it was more about “tackling the problem head on”.
“It’s not about killing cats, it’s about getting rid of them.”