Program targeting feral cats in the Northern Territory town of Batchelor should continue, vets say


In the small town of Batchelor, adjoining to the Northern Territory’s Litchfield National Park, a council program has helped scale back the quantity of feral cats, which consultants say pose the greatest menace to Australia’s native animals.

Over a two-day interval in June this yr, 26 feral cats in the Batchelor space have been caught in traps and humanely euthanised as half of the Coomalie Community Government Council’s Veterinary and Education Program.

The program, which spanned a number of months, additionally concerned surveying group members to seize animal populations and particular person animal information, desexing pet cats and visiting colleges to show accountable pet possession.

Chelsea Smart, a veterinarian who was half of the program, mentioned working to rid the space of feral cats was important to defending “all the native species that reside inside the space”, particularly close to Litchfield National Park.

“I’m nervous [because] I’ve seen the cat numbers enhance throughout many various elements of the Territory over the previous two years,” she mentioned.

Feral cat numbers are rising in elements of the Northern Territory.(Landline)

The NT authorities warns on its web site that feral cats, which have tailored to NT habitats over greater than 100 years, pose a severe menace to native animals and have performed a job in the extinction of some, significantly in Central Australia.

In February this yr, an Australian authorities inquiry reported feral cats kill greater than three billion native animals every year, and really helpful their widespread culling.

In Batchelor — a town of about 500 folks 98 kilometres south of Darwin — feral cats are one of the greatest points for the local people.

Resident Trevor Sullivan blames feral cats for a decline in native wildlife over the years.

But he mentioned the latest program had began to show that round.

“I run the Batchelor Swimming Pool and that is the place the majority of the cats that we have caught have been faraway from,” he mentioned.

“You’ve acquired to begin someplace, and these [measures] are working in that course.

“If it fixes 10 cats in town, then it is a success, an enormous success.”

A man in high vis smiling and crossing his arms in front of a wall featuring a colourful mural.
Batchelor resident Trevor Sullivan says he is seen some native wildlife return to the space since the feral cat removing program started.(ABC News: Che Chorley)

The program was a collaboration between the Animal Management in Rural and Remote Indigenous Communities organisation and the Coomalie Community Government Council.

Council works and repair supervisor Emma Dunne mentioned in the time it had run, the program had made inroads into addressing Batchelor’s severe feral cat downside.

“We had actually constructive suggestions from the group,” she mentioned.

“People who had raised points of the feral cats with us had given suggestions that that they had seen an influence, and so they have been actually completely satisfied and happy to see that council [was] taking initiative to do one thing.”

She mentioned whereas the program had decreased the feral cat inhabitants, it wanted to proceed.

“Given that it was a while in the past now, it is evident that the cat inhabitants is on the rise once more,” she mentioned.

“I feel we have solely scratched the floor of managing the (feral) cat inhabitants.

A young woman with pale skin sits on a couch
Dr Smart mentioned there was extra work to be carried out containing the feral cat inhabitants.(ABC News: Che Chorley)

The program was a one-off venture that was funded by the Australian Government by a Communities Environment Program grant.

Ms Dunne mentioned if the work was to proceed, the council would wish extra exterior funding.

“With council’s finances skill we have got no present program to run something (on feral cats), however it could be good to have extra funding alternatives by grants to run one thing like that once more,” Ms Dunne mentioned.

A blue and white sign welcoming people to the Northern Territory town of Batchelor.
Most feral cats at Batchelor have been just lately faraway from close to the town’s pool.(ABC News: Che Chorley)

Since European settlers arrived with cats greater than 200 years in the past, feral cats have been blamed for enjoying a significant function in 34 Australian mammals turning into extinct, consultants say.

There are greater than six million feral cats throughout Australia, together with many on offshore islands, based on researchers. 

Experts say feral cats kill round 75 million native animals each night time throughout Australia, together with birds, frogs, small mammals, and reptiles.

The NT authorities web site says the solely profitable strategies to regulate feral cats in the NT have been trapping or baiting.

But it says bait can solely be used when there’s a lack of meals as a result of cats won’t scavenge until compelled to.

The web site says feral cats can unfold illness to native animals and people.