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Media Release
Senator the Hon Robert Hill
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Minister for the Environment

Feral Cats Pose Threat to Native Mammals and Birds

Embargoed to midnight Monday 23 September 1996

The dangers posed to Australia's native mammals and birds by feral cats have been highlighted in a new report.

In one of three national overviews released today on the impact of introduced species on native wildlife, feral cats are found to prey mainly on marsupials and birds and are thought to be responsible for the decline of many endangered species including the Kowari, Dibbler, Gouldian Finch and Golden-shouldered Parrot.

Federal Environment Minister Robert Hill says the feral cats report highlights that feral cats prey on native mammals weighing up to 2000 grams and birds up to 3500 grams, but the impact falls most heavily on smaller species of less than 220 grams.

Also released today are overviews of the impacts of salmonids and feral and managed honeybees. Senator Hill says the effective control of invasive species is vital to Australia's ecological and economic health.

"Feral animals can affect both primary production and the environment through the spread of disease, competition for food and shelter, and enhanced predation. Management can only be effective when it is clear what level of control is needed to negate any harmful effects of introduced species like feral cats, trout and honeybees."

Senator Hill says while feral cats have attracted the media spotlight recently, the overviews reveal there are other threats to Australia's native flora and fauna.

"The influx of feral honeybees is causing the decline in populations of native bees in some areas and the pollination of some plants, such as the bottlebrush Callistemon rugulosus, has been reduced by 30 to 50 per cent in some instances.

"Predation by introduced fish species, such as brown trout, has contributed to the decline of ten native species, including the endangered Swan Galaxias and vulnerable Yarra Pygmy Perch, and salmonids have played a major role in the spread of pathogens."

The reports were commissioned under the Federal Government's Invasive Species Program to review existing information on the possible impacts of the three groups of species on native wildlife and to highlight key areas where more knowledge is needed.

The reports: Overview of the impacts of feral cats on Australian native fauna; Overview of the impacts of introduced salmonids on Australian native fauna; and Overview of the impacts of feral and managed honeybees in Australia, are available for $20.00 each from the Department on (06) 250 0200.

Further comment: Matt Brown (Senator Hill) 277 7640 or 0419 693 515
David Kay (Department - ANCA) (06) 250 0240

Commonwealth of Australia