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Cat’s out of the bag: Committee recommends a new national conservation mission

Issue date: Thursday, 4 February 2021

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A new national conservation mission to protect native Australian wildlife from the threat of predation by cats, to be known as Project Noah, is the centrepiece of a new report released by the House of Representatives Environment and Energy Committee today.

Tabling the report, Committee Chair Mr Ted O’Brien MP noted that cats have decimated populations of Australian wildlife, killing billions of native animals each year.

“Feral cats kill over three billion native animals a year which equates to a kill rate of more than 1,100 per cat”, said Mr O’Brien. “These are truly horrific numbers”, he said.

“One of the great tragedies of last year’s Black Summer Bushfires was the loss of wildlife, with between one and three billion animals perishing. To think that feral cats kill more wildlife on an annual basis really put this problem in perspective. 

“Feral cats still need to be culled, but it’s going to take time before we have the technology to rid these lethal carnivores from our natural environment at scale.

“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,” said Mr O’Brien.

“Project Noah would bring together the expertise and resources of governments,  communities, the private sector and philanthropic groups to protect threatened native species from the predation of feral cats and other predators.”

“Project Noah should be ambitious in its rollout and it should be implemented across a range of ecosystems.”  

Other recommendations in the Committee’s report included:

  • That a body of work be conducted to: understand cat impacts; develop nationally consistent definitions for feral, stray and domestic cats; and further research matters such as the prevalence, impact and control of cats, emerging methodologies including gene drive technology; management of cat-borne diseases, and the relationship between cat predation and habitat degradation;
  • A ‘reset’ of the Australian Government’s policy, planning and resourcing in relation to Australia’s feral cat problem to include a new iteration of the Threat Abatement Plan for feral cats; a revised Threatened Species Strategy including new targets for culling feral cats; and consideration of reform opportunities identified through the review of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act and;
  • New strategies for the management and control of domestic cats, including such measures as increased support for desexing, registration and microchipping, a consideration of night curfews, and a national cat ownership education campaign.  

A copy of the Committee’s full report can be found on the inquiry website at: www.aph.gov.au/feralanddomesticcats 

Media inquiries
Mr Ted O’Brien MP (Fairfax, QLD), Committee Chair
Media Advisor, 0401 257 064

For background information
Committee Secretariat
02 6277 4580
environment.reps@aph.gov.au

For more information about this Committee, you can visit its website at www.aph.gov.au/feralanddomesticcats. On the site, you can make a submission to an inquiry, read other submissions, and get details for upcoming public hearings. You can also track the Committee and receive email updates by clicking on the blue ‘Track Committee’ button in the bottom right hand corner of the page.

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