Feral cat debate on

Michael TraillNarrogin Observer
Yvette Harper with a feral cat in the early stages of rehabilitation.
Camera IconYvette Harper with a feral cat in the early stages of rehabilitation. Credit: Michael Traill

Debate is raging on social media around how feral cats should be dealt with in the region.

Mandurah-based shooter Pat O’Dowd took to local social media pages to gauge local farmers’ interest in his free pest control services on their properties.

Mr O’Dowd said he frequently travelled through the South West shooting feral cats, foxes and rabbits at the request of land owners.

“I try to get out at least a fortnight, even once a week sometimes,” he said.

“Most of them (farmers who seek him out) say they have a rabbit problem, or a cat a problem, something like that and ask if I can help them out.

“I’ve got a few mates that tag along with me, we go in a team of four, two of them on the back (of a vehicle) with rifles and a spot light and two at the front.”

Mr O’Dowd claims to be an animal lover who goes feral cat shooting because of their impact on native wildlife. His posts to local social media pages opened a can of worms.

One Facebook user to challenge his approach was Narrogin resident Yvette Harper, who runs Street Cat Appeal Narrogin, a rehabilitation house for feral and stray cats.

Ms Harper agreed that cats have negative impacts on native wildlife populations, however she said shooting feral cats would not solve the issue in the long term.

“Baiting, poisoning and shooting isn’t working,” she said. “If you remove a cat from a territory, another cat will move in, every time.”

Ms Harper said trapping, neutering and releasing feral cats back into their environment could lead to them breeding themselves out.

“They’ve got a life span of maybe two to five years,” she said.

“In that two to five years, they’re not breeding so there’s no cat population growing, they stay in that territory. ...I reckon in a 10-year plan they’d kill themselves out.

“It’s worked in the northern hemisphere in a lot of places.”

Shire of Narrogin chief executive Dale Stewart said the Shire’s strategy for feral and stray cats was to trap and attempt to rehome them.

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