ALLAN THOMPSON, The Weekly Times 26 July, 2018. FERAL cats have officially been declared an established pest in Victoria. However, recreational hunters will still not be able to hunt them. Under the declaration feral cat control will be limited to government department and agency staff and their agents. The declaration applies to areas of Crown land managed by the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, Parks Victoria, Phillip Island Nature Parks, and Victoria’s four Alpine resorts. “This declaration is an important milestone in the protection of Victoria’s threatened wildlife,” Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Lily D’Ambrosio said today. “Feral cats have a devastating impact on our native species and it’s important we manage them properly – that’s what this declaration will enable.” Ms D’Ambrosio said feral cats would not be declared as a pest animal on private land, meaning farmers and other private landholders were not required to control them, however, they would still be able to manage cats roaming on their property in accordance with current laws. The decision to ban recreational shooters from hunting feral cats has disappointed hunting and shooting groups, such as the Sporting Shooters Association of Australia. Hunters had hoped the declaration would give them the right to shoot feral cats on public land in the same way as they can hunt other pest animals. Victorian Shooters, Fishers and Farmers party MP Daniel Young said the Andrews Government needed to allow hunters to shoot feral cats in the same way as they can hunt other declared pests such as rabbits, dogs and foxes. “We need to be able to control them where we encounter them,” he said. “Hunters are a valuable asset and it is silly not to be able to use their resources and skills to control these wildlife killers. It’s another example of the Government refusing to acknowledge the good work they do.” Feral cats are estimated to kill 466 million reptiles and 272 million birds in Australia every year.