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Protecting wildlife from predation by owned domestic cats: Application of a precautionary approach to the acceptability of proposed cat regulations

Lilith, M., Calver, M.C., Styles, I. and Garkaklis, M.J. (2006) Protecting wildlife from predation by owned domestic cats: Application of a precautionary approach to the acceptability of proposed cat regulations. Austral Ecology, 31 (2). pp. 176-189.

Link to Published Version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1442-9993.2006.01582.x
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Abstract

While it is undeniable that owned domestic cats Felis catus (Mammalia: Felidae) kill large numbers of wildlife, it is contentious if this has significant impacts on wildlife populations. Under the precautionary principle such uncertainty does not preclude measures to reduce putative risk, but action should follow consultation with stakeholders. To initiate such consultation for the City of Armadale, Western Australia, we surveyed urban and rural residents to determine their opinions regarding putative impacts of owned cats on wildlife and the acceptability of proposed regulations. Key statements accepted by 70% or more of respondents, irrespective of their residence, gender or cat ownership status, included: (i) there is a need to regulate owned domestic cats; (ii) the presence of cats in nature reserves is harmful to wildlife; (iii) cats not owned by licensed breeders should be desexed; and (iv) local councils should be empowered to restrict the maximum number of cats per household. Seventy per cent or more of owners agreed to keep their cats on their property from sunset to sunrise and to register them if these measures became compulsory. All groups except urban men also indicated 70% or greater willingness to keep their cats on their property constantly if required. However, fewer than 40% of owners supported empowering local councils to enforce cat-free zones. In this community, cat regulation excluding cat-free zones should enjoy support. Similar approaches should be effective wherever the environmental impacts of owned domestic cats are debated, because compliance with such regulations should be high.

Publication Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Biological Sciences and Biotechnology
School of Education
Publisher: Blackwell Publishing Inc
Copyright: © Ecological Society of Australia.
URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/781
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