As part of Australia’s Threatened Species Strategy farmers and hunters shot around 75% of the total estimated number of feral cats killed in 12 months in 2015-16. The total conservative estimated figure is 211,500 feral cats killed in that year. The overall target of the feral cat cull is 2 million feral cats to be killed by 2020 (source: Australian government).
The question asked by the authors of the website, theconversation.com is whether the killing of 2 million feral cats will have any significant impact on the conservation of Australia’s native species.
One enormous weakness apparently in the Threatened Species Strategy is that there is a lack of focus on human activity damaging wildlife such as habitat loss and the clearing of land to make way for economic activities including urban development, mining and agriculture. This is a point that I’ve been making for many years by the way.
Australia has one of the worst rates of land clearance anywhere in the world. We are told by theconversation.com that there has been a rise of 800% in land clearance of native vegetation in New South Wales between 2013 and 2016.
The argument is that there has been too great a focus on feral cat eradication and an under focus on the damage done to native species by human activity. This poor focus damages the strategy to protect threatened species. It is a bad strategy poorly carried out.
Also, it’s impossible, it is argued, to work out how many feral cats need to be killed in order to make an impact on conservation because the Australian authorities do not know the overall population of feral cats on the continent. Therefore culling a percentage becomes a guessing game and is impossible to know whether culling will actually reduce the population size of feral cats. This is another point that I’ve been making for years.
In the past, Australians have estimated that there are 5 to 8 million feral cats on the continent but a more recent review concluded that there were from 2 million to 6 million depending upon the environmental conditions.
If 2 million cats are to be culled and the overall population of feral cats is 2 million the target is to kill every single feral cat on the continent which is impossible. The problem goes back to the overall estimated number of feral cats which to be frank the experts do not know and therefore any other figures are pure guesses.
It is worth adding that farmers and hunters in shooting an enormous number of feral cats are causing an enormous amount of pain to animals that Australians themselves have allowed to be created through careless cat ownership. In short, Australians created feral cats and now they are being cruel to them in enormous numbers. This can only be seen as highly immoral and in most countries this would be criminal behaviour.