Yes, it is finally beginning. Having talked about it for ages, the Australian authorities have decided to embark upon the mass extermination of what they consider to be their arch enemy: the feral cat. The cat that they themselves created. The authorities have developed a lethal poison bait which kills felines but not other animals.
The mass cull begins in the coming weeks on an island off Western Australia. This apparently is where Europeans first reached Australia 400 years ago; quite possibly bringing the first cats to the island. The island is Dirk Hartog Island. It Is 900 km north of Perth. Scientists believe and hope that the poison pellet will clear all cats from the 620 km² island.
It is estimated that Australia has 23,000,000 feral cats. Australian scientists estimate that they devour 75,000,000 native animals each night. I have to interject here. These are estimates and anybody who knows about ‘feral cat killing estimates’ knows that they are often wildly inaccurate.
Australians are also concerned about the growing size and weight of the feral cat in their country. They say that some of them are becoming like super feral cats or a different species of wild cat. They say it is the domestic cat reverting to the wild cat in a genuine way. Apparently some Australian feral cats weigh 10 kg (22 pounds).
We’re told that a study indicates that Australia is losing its small mammals at a faster rate than in most other places in the world and they are blaming the feral cat and foxes. Australia has lost 30 mammal species since European settlement of the continent to 227 years ago.
Over the same period North America has lost only one mammal species.
The poison pellet is called Eradicat. It employs a lethal toxin 1080 – sodium fluoroacetate. The pellet is embedded in a sausage type meat bait.
They are confident that the toxin kills cats but not other native Australian animals. The toxin kills the cat by attacking the central nervous system. The symptoms are vomiting, convulsions, coma and death. Cats die within 2 to 6 hours of eating the poisoned bait.
A spokesman at Charles Darwin University says that “what’s happening in Australia is unusual in global terms and far more serious than we had thought.”
Veterinary scientists, I presume the veterinary profession in general, have approved the mass killing of cats which would appear to go against their oath.
The intention is to distribute the bait within mainland Australia. The timing is yet to be agreed. Australia has decided to exterminate all feral cats and we will see whether it works. Let’s not forget that most native species losses around the world are due to growing human populations which in my opinion applies to Australia as well.
There is another point to make. I don’t believe it is practical to cull all the feral cats. And if you cull part of the population they will fill the void created. Also, the poison bait might not be as good as they state.
If this fails we will have to point the finger at the Australians themselves.