Feral cats and wandering animals are becoming an increasing issue across the Central Highlands, with the council removing over 120 stray felines from the Gemfields alone in the past 18 months.
General Manager Communities John McDougall said council is calling on community members to help combat the problem.
‘If you notice feral or stray cats around your property, you can hire a trap from council to catch the wandering felines,’ he said.
‘The traps are a safe and humane method to manage the increasing number of feral and stray cats, who prey on native wildlife and can spread diseases that affect humans, pets and livestock.
‘Trapping is a safer option than chasing and catching an animal. It also means you don’t have to handle the animal making it easier for all concerned.’
Mr McDougall said council’s rangers provide instructions on how and where to set a trap and will collect the trapped animal.
‘It’s also important that cat owners are responsible and ensure their cats are contained on their property to avoid being trapped,’ he said.
‘Cats should be microchipped, so they can be identified and returned to their owners if caught.’
Cats that have been trapped will be advertised on council’s website if they’re safe to handle. If an owner can be identified, the cat will be held in the cattery for five days to be collected. If no owner can be identified the cat will remain in the cattery for three days before being assessed for rehoming. Cats that are not safe to handle will be euthanised.
Mr McDougall said it’s not just cats that are being caught wandering the region either, with an increasing number of dogs being picked up by rangers in the last six months.
‘Not only is it against the law to allow your pets to wander, pets wandering at large can pose a serious public health and safety risk,’ he said.
‘They can create a traffic hazard, or may become aggressive and cause harm to other people, animals or wildlife. Wandering pets can also spread diseases and parasites to other animals in the area, so ensure your pet is vaccinated and treated.’
To reduce the likelihood of your pet wandering you should investigate:
- desexing your pet
- microchipping your pet and ensuring they are wearing a collar with a tag identifying their owner
- securely fencing your property or considering options such as electric containment fences
- creating a fun environment for them to play in while you are out by giving them toys and treats
- addressing the source of the fear or anxiety that is causing your pet to escape by talking to a vet or animal behaviourist.
To hire a cat trap, or if you spot a wandering animal call council on 1300 686 242. For more information, click here.