Interactions between feral cats, foxes, native carnivores, and rabbits in Australia
Invasive species fact sheet
Department of the Environment and Heritage, 2004
About the report
The Department of the Environment and Water Resources (DEW) is the Australian Government's major environmental agency and is responsible for achieving the Government's environmental objectives. Through the Natural Heritage Trust, DEW is working to develop and implement coordinated actions to reduce damage to the natural environment caused by pest animals.
Since their arrival in Australia over a century ago, introduced herbivores such as the European rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) and introduced predators like the feral cat (Felis cattus) and red fox (Vulpes vulpes) are thought to be responsible for the extinction or decline of a wide range of native species. Foxes and feral cats have been identified as known or perceived threats to 34 and 38 native species, respectively, in threat abatement plans provided for under the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act). Competition and land degradation by rabbits is also listed as a key threatening process under the EPBC Act.
Both State and Federal governments annually commit significant funds to manage the impact that these pest animals have on our environment. Between 1992 and 1999 the Federal government committed $4.7, $1.2 and $2.1 million to fox, feral cat and rabbit research and control programs, respectively.
Understanding the mechanisms that influence the abundance of these pest species, and the nature of the interactions between pest species and native species is critical to increasing our capacity to manage the threats they pose, and to optimise expenditure on pest animals management.