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Feral cats now a pest, but out of Victorian hunters’ range

FERAL cats have officially been declared an established pest in Victoria.

But recreational hunters will still not be able to hunt them. Under the declaration feral cat control will be limited to government department and agency staff and their agents. The declaration applies to areas of Crown land managed by the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, Parks Victoria, Phillip Island Nature Parks, and Victoria’s four Alpine Resorts.

“This declaration is an important milestone in the protection of Victoria’s threatened wildlife,” Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Lily D’Ambrosio said.

“Feral cats have a devastating impact on our native species and it’s important we manage them properly — that’s what this declaration will enable.”

The existing arrangements for managing cats will continue to apply in the areas not covered by the feral cat declaration, Ms D’Ambrosio said.

Farmers and land owners can still manage cats that roam on to their property. But as feral cats have not been declared a pest animal on private land — unlike foxes, wild dogs and rabbits — farmers and other landholders will not be obligated to control them.

This is largely due to the increased likelihood of encountering domestic and stray (or semi-owned) cats on private land. Unlike dogs, domestic cats can roam outside their owner’s property in many areas of Victoria, unless there is a municipal by-law relating to the confinement of domestic cats. It is impossible in most instances to visually differentiate between a domestic or feral cat, Ms D’Ambrosio said.

The decision to ban recreational shooters from hunting feral cats has disappointed hunting and shooting groups.

Victorian Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party MP Daniel Young said hunters should be free to shoot feral cats in the same way they can hunt other declared pests such as rabbits, dogs and foxes. “Hunters are a valuable asset and it is silly not to be able to use their resources and skills to control these wildlife killers,” he said.

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