News: New local focus on feral animals

Feral animals are the target of a new program across the Barkly region.

Posted: Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Barkly Regional Council and the Tennant Creek vet have joined forces to tackle the increasing issue of feral animals across the region.

Council's Director of Community Services Steve Dawkins said Barkly Council had been concerned about feral animals across the region for a number of years.

"We're primarily concentrating on dogs and cats but, as a result of this project, were hoping to get a better picture of other animals that are causing potential problems — things like donkeys, cattle that are straying onto roads, horses and especially the wild cats out there which are causing havoc.

"The scoping study that we've just completed was out on seven communities and gave us a bit of a snapshot of what the issues are.

"It's not about culling populations but the first stage will be working on communities with owners and looking at desexing and, if necessary, euthanasing dogs and cats," said Mr Dawkins.

The issue was prominent in the media last week when ABC Country Hour highlighted the discovery by Barkly vet Dr Dave Hall of a western brown snake in the stomach of a feral cat shot near Tennant Creek.

"This cat was in very good condition so he's a very good hunter and we found an entire brown snake inside him as well as a skink and a small dragon so he'd been focussing on reptiles,” Dr Hall told the ABC.

"It's a very large snake and the cat had eaten the whole lot."

The autopsy also revealed the cat was infected with heartworm, which was a surprise to Dr Hall.

Dr Hall is part of a team that is implementing at $250,000 animal management project, funded by a grant provided to Barkly Regional Council by the Northern Territory Government.

The first stage took place in Elliot last week, where more than 40 of the community’s cats and dogs were desexed.