Calls for night-time cat curfew to address Australian feral cat pandemic

Cat owners could be required to lock up their pets at night as part of a new plan to protect native wildlife.

The proposal, if enacted, would expand on curfews that already exist in some local government areas.

The proposal is one of several recommendations from a parliamentary inquiry looking at ways to tackle the feral cat pandemic and protect Australian native animals.

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One of the recommendations is to establish “new strategies for the management and control of domestic cats, including such measures as increased support for desexing, registration and microchipping, a consideration of night curfews, and a national cat ownership education campaign”.

The inquiry also proposed a “reset” for current government policy that would include new targets for culling feral cats.

“Feral cats kill over three billion native animals a year which equates to a kill rate of more than 1100 per cat”, said inquiry chair and Member for Fairfax Ted O’Brien.

“These are truly horrific numbers,” he added.

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“One of the great tragedies of last year’s Black Summer Bushfires was the loss of wildlife, with between one and three billion animals perishing. To think that feral cats kill more wildlife on an annual basis really put this problem in perspective.

“Feral cats still need to be culled, but it’s going to take time before we have the technology to rid these lethal carnivores from our natural environment at scale.

“This is why we need a new national conservation mission,” Mr O’Brien said.

That mission, which has been dubbed “Project Noah”, would “bring together the expertise and resources of governments, communities, the private sector and philanthropic groups to protect threatened native species from the predation of feral cats and other predators”.

The project would involve the creation of fenced-off areas that could help create habitats free of feral cats.

Wodonga, in northern Victoria, is one council that already places a curfew on cats, and in a submission to the inquiry it said cats should be treated with the same expectations for containment as dogs are.

“It is generally and widely accepted that dogs are confined at all times and that there are consequences when this does not occur,” the council submitted, noting the same is currently “not true for cats, despite overwhelming evidence in support of cat containment”.

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