Forty one feral cats have been caught in the first two months of a local feral cat eradication programme aimed at safeguarding native animals.
Estimates by animal experts reveal more than one million birds a day are killed by feral and domestic cats around Australia. Fed up with the barrage of letters from concerned residents about dead wildlife, Hornsby Council has set up a short-term feral cat trapping program.
“Council’s Animal Control staff have worked with our Bushland team to select some specific wildlife protection sites and properties near bushland across the Shire for trap locations,” explained Councillor Nathan Tilbury, in whose ward dozens of feral cats roam bushland.
“Cat traps have been established in Arcadia, Galston, Normanhurst, Hornsby Heights, Hornsby and Berowra. Traps have also been placed in the Hornsby CBD near the RSL and in Edgeworth David Avenue, and where local residents have described the area as a feral cat plague. In addition to this council is looking for suitable sites at Berowra Waters and Brooklyn.”
The wire cage resembles a possum trap, with water inside and something to entice the cat inside – an operational detail Cllr Tilbury has yet to determine. In some locations officers are returning just a few hours after a trap is set to find a feral cat captured.
“Forty one feral cats have been captured which on average is one feral cat per day, with no sign of things slowing down. Once a feral cat is caught, it is humanely euthanized by a veterinarian. Even the early results of this program clearly demonstrates the seriousness of the feral cat problem across our Shire.”
Six kittens have also been caught and they have been sent to rescue organizations to be re-homed. To date just one domestic microchipped cat has been caught in Berowra bushland and was returned to its owner.
A problem that has been going on for decades, the wild cats breed three or four times a year, each litter generating up to six kittens, creating a whole mass of unregulated animals roaming the bush and streets of the Shire, and indeed across Sydney, looking for prey.
“Typically they kill birds, snakes, bandicoots, rabbits and lizards,” he said. While the programme has been successful in the two months it has been going, it will wrap up in October.
With its current financial crisis, Hornsby Council has very limited resources and officers are working overtime on this program which is not sustainable in the long term. “I am told an additional officer dedicated to catching feral cats would catch in excess of 200 cats annually. The programme we have introduced is not sustainable in the however.
“The long term solution is three pronged: microchipping so people can keep track of their cat, education of owners so people don’t just dump their cat when moving, more widespread desexing and keeping domestic cats in at night so they don’t roam in search of native prey.”