The Australian authorities headed by the Federal Environment Minister, Greg Hunt, have declared war on the feral cat which they say is decimating native species. They have been saying this for a long time. One of the native species which needs protecting and which is critically endangered is the central rock rat. This animal will receive emergency intervention to protect it while simultaneously directions will be issued to kill 2 million feral cats as a pest through baiting, shooting and poisoning despite the fact that the authorities say feral cats will be wiped out “humanely”. How is that? You can’t poison and shoot feral cats humanely. Dying by poising is painful. The target is to kill them in five years.
There it is. They say they don’t hate the feral cat but if you making serious plans to kill 2 million of them in inhumane ways it sounds a bit hollow to say that you don’t hate them.
In addition, the authorities have failed to sufficiently address the central reason for diminished numbers of native wild species, namely habitat loss due to expanding human activity. Why don’t they wage war on themselves at the same time? That would be unacceptable wouldn’t it?
Not enough emphasis has been placed on habitat loss. In addition to killing cats, the intention is to improve the quality of existing habitat and to create safe havens for threatened species.
They expect to kill 2 million feral cats with less than 6.6 million Aussie dollars. That won’t be enough and I’d be surprised if the plan works.
They have said that there are 20 million feral cats in Australia, which is a pure estimate. In truth, they don’t know. However, if it is true they plan to kill one-tenth of the total population. All that will happen is that other feral cats will infiltrate areas vacated by the killed ones.
The government is also looking for money from the private sector to fund these plans. If I was them I’d spend more money but spend it on altering the behavior of people, particularly commercial enterprises, which tend to destroy habitat for commercial gain. At the same time, instigate a proper, well funded trap-neuter-release (TNR) program, nationwide, or trial it in a selected state.
Proper, consistent TNR and proper controls on protecting habitat would work in the long run. Killing cats is a knee jerk reaction and cruel. Aussies should remind themselves that their forbears created the feral cat. This creates an obligation to deal with them in a truly humane way.
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