There is a lot of talk and action in Australia about how to control domestic cats; to essentially restrict ownership and the movement of cats. The objective: to reduce the cat’s negative impact on wildlife numbers. Depite a lack of unequivocal evidence the Australian authorities firmly believe that both outside domestic cats and feral cats decimate native species.
A survey carried out not that long ago concerned four areas of the City of Armadale in Western Australia. The end result was that cats may not be the culprits.
In the area studied the prey species were: brustail possums, southern brown bandicoots, and a small marsupial called the mardo (about the size of a mouse). The scientists who carried out the study considered the mardo to be the most vulnerable to cat predation.
In one of the areas in the study cat ownership was forbidden – no cats. In another area cats were under a curfew. The cats were ‘belled’ (bell on the collar) in the daytime and kept indoors at night. In two other areas there were no restrictions on cats whatsoever.
At the end of the study they found more mardos in the unrestricted areas where cats were free to roam than in the no-cat or curfew areas. Of the other prey animals there was little difference in numbers between all four areas.
Any variations in numbers was put down to the amount of vegetation. It seemed that habitat degredation or to put it in simple language, loss of habitat, may have been the biggest factor affecting the number of small marsupials.
Conclusion: the strict domestic cat control measures had not resulted in any benefit to wildlife. Despite this Australia is introducing cat ownership restrictions in some states. It is a slow process of change. Of course we all know about the draconian measures the Australian government have proposed to eradicate feral cats. When these propals are published online the usual response is uproar both internationally and locally. The methods suggested are inhumane and ineffective.
Source: Cat Sense by Dr Bradshaw. Get this book. It is great.