Feral Focus

A RISKY BUSINESS - American Bobcat

Setting the scene

Many people enjoy the company of their pets. Research has shown that people can benefit from owning a pet including; reduced blood pressure and cholesterol levels, alleviating depression and opportunities for regular exercise. Elderly people particularly benefit from interactions with a pet and young children often develop a deeper appreciation and respect of animals if their household contains one or more pets. An increasing number of Australian households are embracing pet ownership.

A large American company is keen to capitalise on this trend by introducing a totally new animal to the Australian pet trade business. Domesticated bobcats are now the second most popular pet in America. They display many desirable qualities found in both domestic cats and dogs and are remarkably easy to train. Many well known US celebrities are now sporting a bobcat instead of a Chihuahua. This has added to the bobcat's popularity and has increased its profile as a suitable companion animal.

Using the pest risk assessment table, calculate the probability this animal will become a feral pest in Australia.

What to do

The Government agency (Biosecurity Australia) responsible for assessing the risk from allowing the import of pests has sought comment from your business, (Conservation Matters), on your views about the risk from permitting the import of American bobcats into Australia.

  1. Research the biology of the American bobcat to assess the potential for this animal to become an established pest.
  2. Use your findings to complete the pest risk assessment guide and create a score for each of the following sections:
    • Risk to public safety
    • Risk of establishing a wild population
    • Risk of becoming a pest
  3. Use the pest risk assessment table and calculate the threat status of bobcats becoming a pest in Australia if it escapes or is released from a pet-owner's home.
  4. Review information about the characteristics of successful pests.
  5. Prepare your response in the form of a detailed report to Biosecurity Australia.
    Include in your response:
    • the animal's threat status to Australia based on the completed risk assessment activity
    • the characteristics that would aid this animal in becoming a pest.
    • the economic consequences if this animal established a wild population
      • impact on primary industry
      • global industry
      • tourism industry
    • the cultural / social consequences if this animal established a wild population
      • safeguards, if any, that would be required to keep the public safe
      • the risk of the spread of disease
      • would public activity / outdoor recreation be affected?
    • the environmental consequences if this animal established a wild population
      • competition with native animals and birds
      • are there any critically endangered species that may be adversely affected?
      • is there a particular habitat that may be adversely affected?

Documents for download

Further reading

To gain a better understanding of the task at hand it is recommended that you read sections of the following:


Feral Fact

What is a feral animal?

Strictly, a feral animal is a non-native animal that has escaped from captivity and established a self-sustaining population independent of humans. Hence wild horses, pigs, deer and cats are feral, while foxes and rabbits are not as these latter two animals were deliberately released to establish wild populations. However, the word is now generally applied to any non-native animal that causes serious damage to human interests or a valued resource.

Source: www.feral.org.au