By exotic species the report is specifically referring to cats and dogs. Whilst cats are adorable and lots of fun for the family, they are terrors when released into a foreign environment. These expert hunters have been proven to be one of the deadlier threats to small native mammals. The rationale for keeping native fauna as pets is that more people would keep them which would lower the numbers of cats and dogs which presently run a high risk of going feral and destroying habitats. As it stands, there are a number of licences that pet owners can have for native reptiles and birds but people who keep mammals are hypothesised to be much more likely to switch to a native mammal than a bird or reptile.
Protecting species whose numbers are declining
The numbers of many Australian species are declining in the wild which is one of the reasons why people who support the domestication of native fauna think that it can be beneficial to develop a pet industry which would create spare ‘reservoir’ animals that could be used when particular regions find their numbers are thin. There is evidence to suggest that this strategy is quite effective, in 1987 the rainbow fish of northern Queensland were not showing up in any surveys in their native habitats. Thankfully, an association of fish keepers and enthusiasts had kept a number of these fish in captivity which allowed the government to successfully re-introduce this species into the wild and save it from extinction. Of course the major issue that would come up would be selective breeding so there would need to be government regulation on what genes are put forward when breeding captive populations.
Knowledge of species and their ecology will grow
One of the hardest things to do is study animals in their natural habitat; particularly when the vast majority of the animals that live in Australia are active at night. People who keep particular species of animals often contribute a great deal of information to the body of knowledge on a species because they are able to get a closer look at the ecology of a species. This can be hugely beneficial, particularly from a threatened species perspective.
More resources for native species conservation
Having a pet industry can be beneficial in funding the conservation of threatened species. There is strong evidence to suggest that economic motives can be beneficial in generating awareness for issues. As an aside, with greater numbers of people with a vested interest in particular species, there would be more proponents who could voice concerns or assist in funding projects. The creation of an industry levy could also regulate a funding system which would create more conservation programs as the industry grows.
Greater public awareness of what native wildlife exists and their needs
An important element that has been highlighted on a global level is that people who are more connected to wildlife are more concerned about conservation. Individuals who want Australians to keep native fauna as pets say that if people are more familiar with local species they are much more likely to support the protection and conservation of these species. Public awareness about native fauna is incredibly low, this disconnection makes it incredibly challenging to develop conservation programs.