Draft Cat Management Plan

To: 'Jenny Bounds' <>, "" <>
Subject: Draft Cat Management Plan
From: Don Fletcher <>
Date: Mon, 8 Apr 2019 22:35:36 +0000

Hi Jenny, list


The effectiveness of cat containment for maintenance of cat welfare is well established but that topic is not directly relevant to COG. The effectiveness of cat containment for maintaining the abundance of native wildlife in the containment suburbs and nearby areas will be questioned.  As with many cases like this, there are lots of long-term experimental comparisons which it would be useful to have the results from, right now, but which are not being measured. 


In particular, there are bound to be assertions that without enforcement, containment will be useless.  To the contrary, cat containment has well established advantages for cats and their owners, so some voluntary compliance would be expected if there was no more than an educational approach, with no rule of law.  So it is plausible that containment rules plus education would lead to fewer roaming cats because many people comply with laws even when they think there is little risk of being caught.


Whether such a reduction in roaming cats would lead to increased wildlife is an ecological question whose answer would depend very much on what wildlife you were interested in. Unfortunately the kinds of populations likely to suffer the greatest effects will also be very difficult to research. And long term experimental research would be needed, not just a post-doc or PhD.


Many wildlife management issues generate impassioned debate. Assertions fly thick and fast as if every commentator knows every relevant thing.  In the context that numerous individual submissions are likely on the draft plan, a submission from COG the organisation, would likely be valued more highly than the individual commentaries this draft is sure to provoke.  I hope there is a group of COG members with time to contribute to writing and discussing a corporate submission.



Don Fletcher

0428 48 9990


From: Jenny Bounds <>
Sent: Tuesday, 9 April 2019 7:00 AM
Subject: RE: [canberrabirds] Draft Cat Management Plan


Great that this issue has generated an interest and discussion, I do hope some of you will take the time to lodge your views on the Plan for better control of cats.


I do agree that enforcement of domestic pets regulations etc is an issue, there does not seem to be enough resources for current enforcement.


Behind this cat plan, over many years, there has been a lot of fact gathering and research, including social research on people’s attitudes to environmental issues and control of domestic cats.


I asked the Conservation Council about the reference for the rosella number in their press release, apparently its come from another document.






From: Con Boekel [m("","con");">]
Sent: Tuesday, 9 April 2019 6:33 AM
Subject: Re: [canberrabirds] Draft Cat Management Plan



I agree.

Enforcement is one of the keys.

Has here been any at all?

I suggest that the comparisons include in-suburb and in adjacent reserves, looks at seasonal differences including comparative breeding success, and includes ground dwellers such as lizards.

Perhaps people who are making submissions of support in the link provided by Jenny could stress the need for both immediate action as a precaution and research to validate the precaution?





On 4/8/2019 10:42 PM, Chris Davey wrote:

Thanks Con. What I would like to know concerns the enforcement issue. Is the law working or has the cat containment issue gained legs because it feels like a good thing to do. I suspect that those suburbs that have cat containment are more likely to attract residents that agree with the idea but we still need information to compare the number of cats wandering around with those suburbs that have no restriction. If no difference in cat numbers then there is a law enforcement issue. If there is a difference and some measure of bird diversity/abundance shows no different, then cat containment is a waste of time.




From: Con Boekel [m("","con");">]
Sent: Monday, April 8, 2019 9:46 PM
Subject: Re: [canberrabirds] Draft Cat Management Plan


Chris, David

I agree that we need data and we need science.

Ideally the ACT would have invested in this long ago.

But it has not.

We have some data on what happens when cats are eradicated from islands and it is reasonably clear from that data that cats do suppress wildlife up to, and including, forcing extinctions.

In relation to cats in urban locations and cats adjacent to nature reserves, the need for data and the need for science have been known for decades.

My view is that we need to act now as a precaution instead of waiting to get some data and waiting to get some science.

As noted below, 20,000 dwellings are being constructed in the Molongolo Valley and will mostly likely add around 7000 cats to the Valley.

Given that the Valley is known to be habitat for several of the ACT's threatened species it makes little sense allowing around 7000 cats a free run while data is being gathered and the science is being done.

If it subsequently turns out that 7000 cats would not materially impact wildlife, then containment might reasonably be reconsidered.

I therefore continue to urge people to support the Draft Cat Plan.




On 4/8/2019 9:17 PM, Chris Davey wrote:

David, although I am for cat containment I agree with you that it is about time some data were put on the table. A few suburbs have been cat contained for a while now so some facts on the efficacy of cat containment and of compliance should be gathered and made available.




From: David Rees [m("","dprbirdlist");">]
Sent: Monday, April 8, 2019 5:48 PM
To: Con Boekel
Cc: canberrabirds chatline
Subject: Re: [canberrabirds] Draft Cat Management Plan




As I have said before the 'precautionary principle' is not good enough,  Australia is not allowed in international law to use it for dealing with new/potential biosecurity/ exotic pest incursions in trade for example.  The proper way is management based on 'risk assessment', for that you need data


They had and still have the chance to get plenty of data, with the pilot suburbs already cat contained, yet the ACT Government seems to have chosen to do nothing to date with data collection to see if containment has any measurable effect on fauna.  Are the streets/gardens of Forde crawling with skinks, with the legal cats contained, if so, we need to know and add that data to the argument...  There are plenty in my yard, mind you I could stop that with 'astroturf' as too many people locally do, rather than my mostly native garden with complex cover. 


I would support this proposal if there was decent data which demonstrated it had a useful effect, 'till then lets concentrate on conservation matters we know actually do something, like preserving, making and managing habitat.  Making a big section of the population  do something that will cost them money on a maybe (aka 'precautionary principle') without good data that shows a demonstrable benefit  is a potentially dangerous activity politically.  Could do the conservation effort locally a lot of harm, that effort is good by national standards, credit where its due. Trust in Governments various is not good right now, lets not blow it. 













On Mon, Apr 8, 2019 at 3:52 PM Con Boekel <> wrote:

Hi everyone

IMO the key is not more research.

We know enough to act on the basis of the precautionary principle.

We know that domestic cat density is much higher than 'natural' feral
cat densities.

Australia-wide there is (very) roughly a cat per every two-three households.

We know that domestic cats on the loose kill large numbers of everything
that is smaller than cats.

We know that cats travel extensively.

Exactly how many species and how many individuals of species cats kill
might be interesting to know but it is not necessary to know this in
order to apply the precautionary principle.

If you build a suburb and add a cat for every second or third house
along a reserve boundary, and cats commonly travel up to a kilometer a
night, then you are adding massive predation pressure to all the other
edge effects already degrading reserves.

We know that cats do not discriminate between common species and
endangered species. They kill anything.

And it not just birds. When our last Jacky died the neighbours' cats
moved in for a feast.

Within a short period of time they had eliminated skinks completely from
our garden.

Cats are an important part of our society: they provide interest, a
hobby, and very important companionship to many members of our society.

But cat ownership is a privilege and that privilege does not extend to
reducing neighborhood amenity with nocturnal yowling or killing valuable

IMO, the key is not more research.

Educating cat owners is a useful marginal activity but is just that:
marginal because many cat owners either don't want to know or don't care
what their cats kill.

The key is more action based on the precautionary principle.

And the key to this action is mandatory containment.

This allows for cat owners to exercise their privilege properly and with
the best regard to the needs and best health of the cats.

And, once containment areas are legally-mandated, then beyond the
contained areas, all cat management becomes feral cat management.

Finally, it is not enough to have a Plan. It needs to be implemented,
monitored and reported on once it is in place.

One bit of action we can all take is to ensure the ACT Government
receives a voice of support from each one of us for the Draft Plan.



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