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Tracking feral cats around Coffs Harbour

North Coast Local Land Services is working in a collaborative project that is studying the movement of wild dogs, foxes and feral cats around Coffs Harbour.  Technology, in the form of GPS tracking collars and remote cameras, is allowing researchers to understand how these animals use the Coffs Coast peri-urban areas.

Partners in the project include NSW Department of Primary Industries, NSW Office of Environment and Heritage, Forestry Corporation of NSW, Coffs Harbour City Council and Gumbaynggirr Green Teams and private landholders.

Mark Robinson from North Coast Local Services said, “Collared feral cats have already revealed some interesting movements - one that was caught near Red Hill ended up travelling about 12 km to Kings Creek in the Lower Bucca area.

“The feral cats we’ve collared so far have encroached on farmland and near rural residential areas but what is also apparent is that these cats travelled largely in forested habitats including roadside forest remnants.

“We are concerned about how much native prey feral cats can kill in this area.” Mark said.

Globally cats are having a significant impact. A recent review of invasive mammal predators identified feral cats as being responsible for the global extinction of 63 bird, mammal and reptile species.”

Mark continued, “Closer to home, an analysis of Australian feral cat diets suggested these pests feed on 120 Australian bird species, 156 reptiles, 58 marsupials, 24 rodents, 21 frogs and five bats and at least 120 of these species occur on the NSW North Coast and some are listed as threatened.”

There is also significant scientific evidence in Australia that domestic cats kill native fauna and depending on their level of care, are known to range beyond their yard. Neither feeding your cat well nor desexing is likely to change their propensity to kill native animals or to change their home range.

The best strategy for managing domestic cat impacts on the environment and to keep the cats safe as well, is to confine pet cats to their yard. RSPCA NSW recommends that cats be kept in adequately designed enclosures at a minimum from dusk to dawn and cat owners can then be comforted in the knowledge that their feline friend is safe - as well as ensuring the safety of native wildlife.

The research being conducted in the peri-urban area of the Coffs Coast is providing some valuable information on predator movements and interactions that will add to existing knowledge on these species.

Media contact:

Mark Robinson, Land Services Officer, Phone 6659 9405

Photo captions:

1. Feral cat (Image credit Darren Marshall)
2. Surveillance image of a cat with a native phascogale (Image credit Marika Maxwell)