Australia To Begin the Extermination of Millions of Feral Cats With Poison Pellets

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.

Killing Australia's feral cats
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

Giant Aussie Feral Cat

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.

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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.

Australian proudly showing off his feral cat kill. It looks ridiculous and sad to me.

Australian proudly showing off his feral cat kill.

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.

Useful tag. Click to see the articles: Cat behavior

Note: sources for news articles are carefully selected but the news is often not independently verified.

Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 74-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare. If you want to read more click here.

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24 Responses

  1. Sarah says:

    And when ferals cats and feral foxes are gone and the indigenous wildlife continues to decline, will Australians stop carving up the habitat with roads and fences? Will they stop the urban sprawl and industrial sprawl? Will they eradicate the introduced cattle, horses, pigs, goats and sheep that eat the vegetation and tear up the fragile soil with their hard hooves – and which compete with native graziers? The worst of the damage is done by humans and agriculture. The other creatures do what instinct tells them, but humans supposedly have intellect, but despite their intellect they are destroying the environment and then blaming every other mammal except themselves. Soon they will find that other vulnerable animals fall prey to poison bait and they will vilify anything and everything apart from homo sapiens.

  2. rachel hayes says:

    people should not kill cats because they are feral we should capture them and neuter them as kittens

  3. rachel hayes says:

    this is a bad bad idea

  4. Elizabeth w says:

    Yes humans judge and demolish what they create. It always the non-human animal’s fault when it’s really the humans fault!!!! Humans say they are smarter then non-human animals; then prove it by spaying and neutering your pets!

  5. Kathleen says:

    Michael, can you tell me where this was reported? (In a Western Australia newspaper?) I haven’t heard about it and I doubt it could happen in the whole of Australia. There are some state governments that go ahead and do something like this, but it never happens in every state. I’m in NSW, which has very strong regulations for companion animals, e.g. microchipping, registration etc. I’m also somewhat involved in animal welfare issues in the state and I don’t think interested organisations and politcal parties in NSW would let something like this happen (poison pellets). I suppose it could happen in WA, but I think it’s probably a media beat up, as you and others suggested. I do believe there is a problem with cats killing native wildlife, but there is still a lot of controversy about the issue. I don’t think there is any agreement on how big the problem really is and how to solve it.

  6. Pippa Mealings says:

    Sorry typo above – should have read “agonising prolonged death”

  7. Pippa Mealings says:

    I live in Australia and sadly there are a lot of cat haters here. Cats and so called feral cats which includes stray and homeless pet cats are demonized by the media. Cats are blamed for everything to do with wildlife and also in suburbia. The laws for law abiding cat caretakers are draconian in some States, but it does not stop the irresponsible people from not bothering to desex their cats. I think this poison could very well backfire and affect other species or cause an agonising prolonged and will undoubtedly be taken by pets as well. How will these people know what cat is feral or not. I have travelled to Central Australia and never seen a huge feral cat – I believe it is a different breed, or it has been dreamed up to use as anti-cat propaganda. We are not allowed to do TNR as it is illegal in Australia, so there is not even that option to help feral cat colonies. Where I used to live there were cats allowed to breed around farms and their numbers became a problem, but they looked just like domestic cats, not some weird super sized cat! I am embarrassed to be Australian in this instance and am totally against this. I hope there is a petition to protest against this.

    • Thanks Pippa. Interesting comment. I also believe that the poison bait extermination will backfire badly. You make a good point about outside domestic cats. I assume there are quite a few outside cats in Australia. I believe the government have used scientists to malign the feral cat and then used the media to spread the false information. This is why people have learned to hate stray cats. I may be wrong but that is my gut feeling.

  8. Anne Marie Powless says:

    This is NOT the way to deal with feral cats. It is animal abuse. Australian authorities need to do what other countries do and that is sterilize these animals. Humans caused this problem. Why should animals have to suffer because of our mistakes?

    • Thanks Anne Marie. The Aussies have created a “problem” as they see it that they can’t fix. Mass slaughter is a desperate and inhumane measure. They ignore the damage they are doing to native species. The human is far more destructive than the cat.

  9. CeeCee says:

    I’m sure there was considerable thought into this approach, but I wonder if a Trap-Neuter-Release program combined with other programs/policies would be a better way to go. Can’t help but think of the cane toad and possible unintended consequences to leaving poison pellets in the environment.

  10. Geri says:

    This is horribly sad and cruel. When does the war on cats end? When will humans take responsibility for the harm they do? This just sickens me. Poison is always a slow painful death. How could they!?

    • When will humans take responsibility for the harm they do?

      My sentiments entirely. People created these cats. They should deal with them humanely. Aussies are behaving unethically. As you say there will millions of hours of pain and agony in Australia over the coming years amongst the cats. If there is a god may there be a balance in the natural order of things and may the people who are doing this pay a heavy price.

  11. Eva D.R.Force says:

    This is so sad. I hope they keep a few males and a few females. These cats are so unique and beautiful.Look at their long legs and markings. How could anyone be proud of this killing which is taking place right now ? Will it ever be outlawed ? I have to wonder and can only hope this mass extermination will be abolished.

  12. J. Martin says:

    There is a total lack of compassion where that is concerned. Maybe “if” they had TNR programs in place. Instead of just killing them…and it’s doubtful if they care or not if it’s someones pet. VERY SAD!!!!

  13. Dee (Florida) says:

    I’m, actually, shocked that any civilized country would do this.
    Even though ferals are a controversy here in this country, I don’t think that mass extermination would be tolerated. I can, easily, see protests everywhere.

  14. Dee (Florida) says:

    It’s obvious that they didn’t bother to consult with any cat/feral experts and are clueless about any vacuum effect or how this dilemma was created in the first place. Eradicating a problem has to be addressed at the source, ie. MANDATORY NEUTERING!!!

  15. don hinton says:

    cruel and immoral. Barbarian and savage behavior.

  16. A sad fact of life where Australians themselves created the “Frankenstein cat” through their ancestors who colonized Australia from the native Aborigines.

    • Yes, it’s a self-created problem. They Aussies have been thinking of ways to exterminate the feral cat for a long time. Now they are about to start. I’ll bet it will fail as an idea.

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