The feral animal control program is conducted in City of Cockburn-managed conservation reserves. The program targets feral cats, rabbits, foxes and bees. Feral animal control is undertaken in a humane and ethical manner, in line with relevant legislation. The program minimises impacts on native and domestic animals and the natural environment.
The City carries out programs to control feral animals in conservation reserves managed by Cockburn. The feral animal control program considers community safety and ethical treatment and minimises adverse impacts, including impacts on domestic pets.
How do I find out about feral animal control?
The City widely advertises feral animal control programs, including details on timing and type via the following:
- Articles in the Cockburn Soundings
- Information on the City’s website
- Ads in local Newspapers
- Signage at entrances to and within conservation reserves
- Notification letter to residents who border specific conservation reserves
- Notification to Banjup Residents Group.
The feral animal control program is undertaken using approved methods and only skilled contractors are used.
Responsible pet ownership
Responsible pet ownership is an important part of feral animal control in Cockburn. Dogs should be kept on leads in conservation reserves and cats should not be allowed to roam. Please make sure that animals are microchipped and sterilised. Rabbits should be immunised against RHDV and RCV and their clutches should have appropriate insect screening.
Monitoring feral animals in Cockburn
The City continuously monitors its feral animal control program. Environmental Services staff monitor reserves for feral animal activity and use GPS to pin point activity such as warrens or dens.
The City also relies on reports from residents. Sightings and evidence of activity are entered into a database, which aids in targeting sites where activity is considered to be high. The City undertakes vegetation condition and fauna surveys in conservation areas every four years. The information gathered in these surveys help give an indication of the success of the feral animal control program.
Domestic household pets, particularly cats, can be responsible for causing serious decline in native species when left to roam free. Owners need to make sure they practice responsible cat ownership.
Feral cats threaten the survival of over 100 Australian native species. They are the same species as domestic cats, but they live and breed in the wild. Feral cats can also carry infectious diseases, which can harm domestic animals, livestock and humans.
Feral cat control
The City uses cage traps for feral cats, in areas where cat activity has been identified as likely. Traps are placed in isolated areas within reserves, away from the general public. Trapping is conducted on weekdays outside of school holidays in autumn in conjunction with fox trapping. The traps are checked each day, to reduce stress to animals and to minimise their time in the cage. During the day, all traps are closed down or removed to reduce the risk of non-target captures and traps being stolen.
All captured cats are checked for a collar and scanned for a micro-chip. All registered cats, as well as those identified as domestic are taken to the City’s Animal Pound.
Rabbits can cause severe environmental damage through fields as well as native bush degradation and soil erosion. Rabbits compete with native animals and are considered pests in Western Australia. The City engages an animal pest specialist to help control numbers of rabbits in selected conservation reserves. Several reserves are also fitted with rabbit-proof fences to help reduce access.
How to identify a wild rabbit
Wild rabbits are typically grey-brown with a pale belly. Rabbits are largely nocturnal animals living in burrows and dense shrubs. The breeding season for rabbits extends from May to November, resulting in the highest populations in late winter and spring.
The City of Cockburn annually releases Calicivirus, also known as RHDV, throughout conservation areas that have high levels of rabbit activity. The virus manages the population of European rabbits in the area and prevents the destruction of habitat and vital food sources for native species. As Calicivirus exists in the natural environment, on occasion rabbit deaths occur outside control program time-frames. Rabbit owners are asked to ensure that pet rabbits are immunised against Calicvirus and hutches are insect resistant in the lead up to the City’s feral rabbit management program.
A combination of virus releases and warren destruction and fumigation may be used to control rabbits. On occasions when deemed to be safe to off target species, Pindone oat baits may be used.
Timing is critical to the release of rabbit hemorrhagic disease virus (RHDV), also known as calicivirus. Factors taken into consideration include abundance of flies to distribute the virus, weather conditions (temperatures that are not too hot so as to kill the virus and minimal rain to minimise impacts on the host), and the time of day it is distributed. RHDV is generally released in early to mid-spring but this is dependent on expected climatic conditions such long periods without rain.
The City does not release Myxomatosis virus however strains of this may still exist in the environment from past releases by agencies other than the City. RHDV/ RCV endures in the natural environment and there may be outbreaks that are not related to any local release.
Mechanical rabbit warren control
Rabbit warrens are destroyed by either using machinery to plough the ground or by using tools to collapse the warren. Warren collapsing is only undertaken in winter months when there is a very low risk of fire.
The City erects warning signs to notify the general public that works are being undertaken. In high traffic areas, the City will guide people around the immediate area.
Chemical rabbit warren control
This City rarely uses chemical control as there is a greater likelihood of damage to native animals such as snakes. All warren entry and exit points are assessed prior to fumigation control.
If rabbits are a nuisance on your property you may wish to contact a licensed animal pest controller. You can obtain more information about rabbits from the Department of Agriculture and Food. If you notice rabbits in Cockburn conservation reserves, please contact Environmental Services.
Foxes are considered pests in Western Australia as they not only cause damage and loss to the agricultural sector, but there is evidence to show they have caused the decline in some Australian native species. The City conducts fox control in selected conservation reserves through non-baiting mechanisms.
How to identify a fox
Foxes range in colour from pale red to deep reddish brown, with white underparts and usually black legs. Their tails are bushy and almost always tipped with white or black hairs. Foxes are mainly active at night, resting during the day in a den or in sheltered sites. Foxes may use several resting sites within their home range and do not necessarily return to the same site each day.
Foxes hunt alone and for part of the year are generally solitary animals. They become more social as the breeding season approaches in June and July, when they form or re-establish pairs.
Fox control program
The City uses soft leg traps to control foxes, which reduces injuries to any animals caught in the traps. The City carries out all trapping in compliance with the Agriculture and Related Resources Protect Act, Animal Welfare Act and current best practice. Animals are euthanised in an approved and humane manner.
The City’s fox trapping locations are carefully chosen to minimise risk to humans and non-target species such as domestic dogs or cats.
When does the City undertake fox control?
The City carries out fox trapping programs in summer and autumn. Trapping is undertaken on weekdays outside of school holidays to minimise risks, including interference with captured animals and trap damage.
The City installs warning signs at all entry points to, and throughout, reserves where trapping takes place. The City also sends letters to neighbouring residents whose properties border reserves to let them know about trapping programs underway. It is important to keep dogs on leads in reserves and cats at home during these times. The City does not use baits in its fox control program.
There are many species of feral bees in Australia, which compete with native fauna for floral resources and nesting sites.
Feral bee control
The City engages a contractor to manage and control feral bees found within tree hollows. Feral bee control is undertaken by either destroying the hive or relocating the hive to an approved apiarist.
Please contact Environmental Services for more information on feral animal control, including to report sightings, on 08 9411 3444 or at firstname.lastname@example.org