Together with the Australian Wildlife Society, Birdlife Australia, the Nature Conservation Council on NSW and WIRES, the Invasive Species Council welcomes the timely inquiry into pounds in New South Wales. Pounds currently play a key role within the NSW companion animal management system for managing surrendered and seized animals.
Our interest in this inquiry lies in ensuring appropriate policies, legislation and structures are in place to effectively manage cats and their impacts on wildlife. In NSW, and nation-wide, there are a range of interacting threats to native wildlife, including habitat loss, degradation and fragmentation, disease and pathogens, weeds and introduced animals, pollution, roadkill, alterations to waterways and fire regimes and direct and indirect impacts of companion animals. Cats are a natural and effective predator that predates on native (and non-native) animals if they have access to freely roam.
Many of the cats entering council pounds are free-roaming semi-owned or unowned cats – often known as “stray” cats. Thus, the operation of pounds and strategies to regulate the number of animals entering pounds, has important consequences for managing the free-roaming cat population and mitigating direct impacts (predation) and indirect impacts (spread of disease, competition, disturbance) of domestic cats on wildlife.
Our submission was built on the following themes:
(1) adequately funding and resourcing the pound system (and associated reforms),
(2) curbing the source of animals entering pounds,
(3) establishing clear responsibilities for councils to proactively manage companion animals,
(4) aligning legislation to ensure management goals can be achieved, and
(5) ensuring environmental outcomes are considered and reflected in companion animal initiatives.