SSAA submission to feral cat inquiry

Nadia Isa

The Sporting Shooters’ Association of Australia has made a submission to The Standing Committee on the Environment and Energy, SSAA National submitting its statement to the Inquiry into the problem of feral and domestic cats in Australia. The Inquiry is accepting submissions addressing one or more of the following terms of reference:

Prevalence of feral and domestic cats in Australia; Impact of feral and domestic cats on native wildlife and habitats; Effectiveness of current legislative and regulatory approaches; Effectiveness of Commonwealth action and cooperation with states and territories on this issue including progress made under the Threat Abatement Plan, the national framework and national declaration relating to feral and domestic cats in Australia; Efficacy, cost-effectiveness and use of current and emerging methods and tools for controlling feral cats including baiting, establishment of feral cat-free areas using conservation fencing and gene-drive technology; Efficacy of import controls for high risk domestic cat varieties to prevent the impact of feral and domestic cats, including on native wildlife and habitats; Public awareness and education in relation to the feral and domestic cat problem; Interaction between domestic cat ownership and the feral cat problem.

The SSAA National submission referred to a number of these categories, including regulatory impediments to effective feral cat control such as Victorian hunters’ inability to legally cull feral cats on public land open to hunting while targeting other species such as wild deer. Our submission also suggested restrictions to availability and use of suppressors in all states and territories removes access to a tool which could increase efficiency of current and future volunteer feral cat control operations.

The Association also made comment regarding ground shooting as an effective control option and the common commentary that good shooting is expensive and labour intensive. We highlighted the fact that ground shooting is extremely effective when activities are undertaken by volunteers and those happy to use their spare time conducting operations such as SSAA’s Farmer Assist program. Every feral cat control tool is important and enlisting and empowering skilled volunteers to conduct activities is an appropriate method of control which should be acceptable and utilised.

Our involvement in the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) Supplementary Pest Control Program in New South Wales has proved volunteer shooters are a successful component of the NPWS’s integrated pest management approach. This type of pest control model is seen and accepted by the wider community as an effective tool to remove pest animals from NSW National Parks.

SSAA National Wildlife Programs Leader, Matthew Godson, acknowledged the role ground shooting can play in lowering the impact of feral cats. “It’s important for us to keep pushing the message that ground shooting is a target-specific, humane and effective method of controlling feral cats,” Matt said.

“New technologies such as night vision and thermal are no long cost prohibitive and many of our members have these new tools. Using them with the old favourites such as predator callers and spotlights, enable volunteer shooters to be well-equipped to be part of the solution with regard to reducing the impact of feral cats on native species.”

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