To progress conservation objectives, Animal Care Australia supports humane management of endemic and introduced species, appropriate for the area concerned. Animal Care Australia recognises that the management plan will need to vary based on local needs and species. Animal Care Australia supports removal of animals when conducted by best practice and the most humane methods. Animal welfare must be prioritised.
Animal Care Australia strongly encourages government and private research institutes to continue researching more humane methods for the control of exotic invasives and feral species with the goal of implementing those methods in the near future.
TNR – Trap, Neuter & Release
In reference to the use of the ‘TNR’ program for control of ‘cat communities’ and feral cats, Animal Care Australia is awaiting further peer-reviewed Australian-based scientific data/studies before drawing any policy position. More conversations and studies also need to be had regarding TNAR (Trap, Neuter and Adopt/Rehome).
The Australian environment and surrounds are greatly different to those in other parts of the world where the current data is sourced.
Overseas data from Europe, appears to indicate cat communities maintained by local residents do provide some limit of excess breeding. While in outer regions (outer-urban, rural, and native bushland) where regular feeding and control cannot be maintained, populations are out of control, indicating no claim can be confidently made as to its success or failure as a method of control.
Studies from the United States indicate the opposite and saw a rise in the number of cats in each ‘cat community’.
Animal Care Australia is consciously aware that a cat will always be a cat regardless of whether it is neutered/spayed and well fed. In most States the legislation dictates a cat ‘free-roaming’ and not owned (microchipped) can instantly be labelled a feral animal. Subsequently any conscious release of that animal into the environment (un-owned) is illegal. Any cat deemed feral can be euthanised. Animal Care Australia calls upon this legislation to be reviewed in order to ensure an appropriate amount of time is provided for the assessing of behaviour exhibited by a newly caught cat, to ensure the cat is feral and not reacting to its current situation and under duress due to the stressful and restrictive circumstances it is experiencing.
Animal Care Australia acknowledges the hypocrisy of supporting ‘cat curfews’ and policies designed to reduce cats free-roaming while also considering leaving ‘free-roaming cat colonies’ to be a method of feral cat control.
Animal Care Australia calls on Australian governments to initiate and fund the appropriate research into effective methods of feral cat control and rebated or free desexing programs by local councils.
Being in the best interests of animal welfare, Animal Care Australia supports the need for cat containment, including curfews, and education on how it actually benefits the cats.
Cat containment does not equal keeping your cat indoors 24/7—it means keeping your cat only roaming on your property — whatever that may be. It also includes taking your cat for walks on a leash. In other words it means the restriction of ‘free-roaming’ cats.
Cats that are not confined to your property risk:
- Being hit by a car
- Being trapped or poisoned
- Becoming the victim of another animal (eg: dogs)
- Complaints & threats from neighbours
- Being stolen
- Being injured
- Killing native wildlife
- Confrontations with other territorial cats
- Catching transmissible diseases
- Infestations of fleas/ticks/parasites
You can achieve this safely through an outdoor escape-proof cat enclosure, a specialised escape-proof fence or supervised access in the yard. Remember, walking with your cat outside of your property gives you the ability to protect them from all of the above risks, and the inevitable high veterinary expenses that come with the risks.
Animal Care Australia supports the use of biological control where there are no other effective alternatives, however Animal Care Australia does not believe Federal and State governments provide sufficient incentive, funding or support in securing alternative methods, vaccines against currently used methods, and up to date scientific reviews of those current methods.
Many biological methods are still used maintained by justification citing research/studies completed well over a decade ago, some with dubious incentives or sources.
Technologies have sufficiently continued to expand thereby justifying the need for up to date research to be initiated on all methods of biological control.
Vaccines for pets and breeding stock must be approved and made available in advance of the bio-control agent being released. This will ensure pets and breeding stock animals are safe guarded against the effects of the control method and avoid unnecessary illness and deaths. This is not currently occurring – with several vaccine options being stalemated by red-tape and a lack of priority by government departments.
Animal Care Australia strongly supports greater government funding for research into alternative methods for biological control of feral animals, including the use of 1080 and rodenticides that are responsible for secondary or indiscriminate poisoning/victimisation. The continued use of 1080 and some rodenticides can no longer be justified based on the age of the studies being used as justification for their use.
Domestic, companion, stock and native animals are suffering due to the delay in ensuring appropriate vaccines or alternative methods are being implemented.
Immuno-contraception is being touted by activist organisations as a means of controlling the numbers of feral animals. Animal Care Australia does not find justification in the use of this biological control method as a long term method, given research indicates, the contraceptive intervention is short lived and requires regular updating; feral animals are too abundant to be effectively controlled; the contraceptive is not guaranteed to prevent contraception, and the excessive numbers of animals not able to receive contraception in each contraceptive cycle (recorded to be an average of 3-5 years in horses and other larger mammals) still maintaining breeding numbers that would out-number those that are not breeding.
Animal Care Australia supports ethical and sustainable hunting where high animal welfare standards are practiced, reviewed and regulated.
Animal Care Australia supports the use of licensed, professionally trained and regulated hunting as a method of feral animal control.
All regulatory measures must ensure the highest animal welfare standards are adhered to.