DECLARATION OF THE FERAL CAT AS A DECLARED PEST IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA
I am writing to inform you of the outcome of consulation with stakeholders by the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) on the proposal to declare the feral cat (Felis catus) a declared pest under section 22(2) of the Biosecurity and Agriculture Management Act 2007 (BAM Act).
This proposal was made following predation by cats being listed as a key threatening process in the Australian Government’s Threatened Species Strategy 2015. This strategy identifies the feral cat as having played a major role in the extinction of Australia’s threatened species. The strategy is a five year plan that prioritises work in partnership with community to reverse the decline of native species, and support their recovery.
In July 2015, Environment Ministers endorsed the national declaration of feral cats as pests and agreed to review arrangements within their respective jurisdictions to remove unnecessary barriers to the effective and humane control of feral cats.
In accordance with the national agreement, DPIRD undertook a review to consider feral cats a declared pest under the BAM Act. As feral cats primarily impact native species, DPIRD is working in partnership with the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA) to carry out the review.
DPIRD policy on criteria and consideration for declaration as a pest under section 22(2) of the BAM Act formed the basis of the review. A technical assessment and recommendation addressed the policy’s five criteria for declaration. The criteria were met and the recommendation was made to declare feral cats as a pest under the BAM Act. A copy of the technical assessment is attached here for your information.
State-wide consultation and engagement is integral to the declaration process. Thirty-eight key stakeholders were asked to review the report and provide comment on the proposed declaration of the feral cat.
The stakeholder group is comprised of private and public groups involved in conservation, biosecurity, landcare and pest management, the WA Local Government Association, the Pastoral Lands Board, the RSPCA, and organisations experienced in the shelter, rescue, and sterilisation of pet animals.
Details on the outcomes from the consultation process are below.
Outcome of the consultation
Stakeholdes provided valuable comment on the assessment report. This has been used to update the assessment and will be provided to stakeholders.
The vast majority of stakeholders supported feral cats being declared a pest under the BAM Act, for reasons of conservation and protection of the State’s biodiversity. Stakeholders not in support of the declaration provided reasons relating to concerns for domestic pet cats.
The Cat Act 2011 (Cat Act) currently applies to domestic cats to enforce responsible cat ownership and, among other issues, help reduce unwanted cat pregnancies and kitten dumping. It does this through mandatory cat sterilisation, use of cat curfews under the discretion of local councils, and penalties for dumping unwanted animals. The Cat Act also requires cats over 6 months of age to be sterilised, micro-chipped and to wear an identification tag. Registered cat breeders can obtain exemptions from mandatory sterilisation. This legislation is generally enforced by local governments, who may also administer their own policies or local laws on cat ownership.
A declaration under the BAM Act would have no impact on requirements under the Cat Act, and the proposed declaration will only apply to feral cats. Pet domestic cats are currently declared a permitted animal under the BAM Act and this will not change if feral cats become a declared pest.
The Cat Act requires pet cats over 6 months of age to be identified by micro-chip and a collar bearing the cat’s registration tag. For cats not identified according to the Cat Act, DPIRD is developing a policy to mitigate the risk of harm to domestic pet cats. The new policy will draw on information provided in the Australian Government Threat Abatement Plan for Predation by Feral Cats and related Background document, the national Model Code of Practice for the Humane Control of Feral Cats, the RSPCA discussion paper Identifying Best Practice Feral Cat Management in Australia, the Cat Act, and stakeholder comments on cat behaviour and identification.
Control of feral cats
Under the BAM Act and the Regulations (2013) declared pests may be assigned to a control category that describes the type of control that a particular pest is subject to under the Act. These categories are C1 exclusion, C2 eradication and C3 management.
These inform a landholder of the type of control that DPIRD applies to regulate a declared pest.
If feral cats are declared, DPIRD will not assign a control category. Instead feral cats will be declared as no-control-category (NCC) pest. This means that DPIRD will not require landholders to manage or control feral cats on their property and will not implement compliance activities on landholders for this species.
The management of cats of any category, for any reason, must currently be carried out in accordance with Commonwealth and State animal welfare recommendations. This will not change if feral cats are a declared a pest under the BAM Act.
However, a pest declaration under the BAM Act may provide a defence under section 24 of the Animal Welfare Act 2002 to a charge of cruelty, if the offence was committed while the person was attempting to kill the pest in a manner that is generally accepted as usual and reasonable for killing that particular pest.
The BAM Regulations stipulate that control of declared pests using traps and poison is subject to the Medicines and Poisons Act 2014 and the Animal Welfare Act. It also stipulates that control can only be carried out by an authorised inspector and/or under the authority of a permit. These subjects are covered under Regulations 42, 43, 44, and 45.
The BAM Act and Regulations can be found at the website of the State Law Publisher www.slp.wa.gov.au, or through these links: Biosecurity and Agriculture Management Act 2007 and Biosecurity and Agriculture Management Regulations 2013.
Is there an opportunity to provide comment?
The proposed declaration of the feral cat is now currently under consideration by DPIRD and DBCA. However any further comments can be emailed Win Kirkpatrick at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This is not something that we would want in Western Australia based on the outcome of the same State Law being accepted and passed in the eastern states. This has no fact based outcome and brings out the vigilantes and those that have a vested interest and not the interest of "Animal Welfare". To give you some idea of what happened in one state I have posted some of the media surrounding this Law in other states.Below just one council that has been using the Bio Security Act to declare war on rescue groups and cats.
This is the outcome you get when the vested interests and money is concerned in creating a new law. We need to stop this and make it "only" about animal welfare.