Albany anti-feral cat group saving native wildlife with new grant

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Kasey GrattonAlbany Advertiser
Albany and Surrounds Feral Cat Working Group founder Jenni Loveland with a catio in Mt Barker.
Camera IconAlbany and Surrounds Feral Cat Working Group founder Jenni Loveland with a catio in Mt Barker. Credit: Laurie Benson/Albany Advertiser

An Albany group determined to reduce the number of feral cats in Two Peoples Bay will use a funding boost to teach the public about the devastating impact the cats have on native wildlife.

Albany and Surrounds Feral Cat Working Group this month received a grant of nearly $200,000 over three years from the State Natural Resource Management program.

The group has been in operation since 2009 and is overseen by the Oyster Harbour Catchment Group.

ASFCWG plan to use part of the grant on education to increase community awareness of responsible pet cat ownership, as well as stray and barn cat populations on rural properties.

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“Even though feral cats cause horrific damage to the environment, a pet cat can basically be just as bad if it’s roaming,” ASFCWG founder Jenni Loveland said.

“And a lot of people don’t believe that their pet cats are catching things because they don’t bring it back, but a high percentage of cats actually don’t bring their kills back.”

The target area is home to several threatened species of fauna.

It is the only place where the noisy scrub bird lives and the first site where western ground parrots were reintroduced.

Ms Loveland said fires in the area in 2015 reduced ground cover, creating “the perfect conditions” for cats to hunt the local fauna.

The Gilbert’s potoroo, one of the world’s most rare and critically endangered animals, are also targeted by feral cats.

“Potoroos are the perfect size for them,” Ms Loveland said.

“They like a little nice yummy meal, that they can catch under 4kg, and they are the perfect size.”

Ms Loveland said the group would also use the grant to set up cameras to monitor the feral cats and assess their population size.

Albany-based Southern Aboriginal Corporation, one of the local groups that supports ASFCWG with feral cat mitigation, will help with the implementation and observation of the cameras.

Eventually, the cameras will live stream footage online, with members of the public able to join the effort to protect threatened species.

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