Australian Scientists Dream Up Another Way to Kill Feral Cats

Aussie feral cat

Aussie feral cat

You have to hand it to the Aussies; they keep trying and are highly competitive. For years now they have endeavoured to come up with a method to control feral cat populations on their continent other than employing TNR which they consider to be impractical.

Most of their methods are brutal and inhumane – e.g. mass poisoning and shooting. They are acts of desperation in an effort to protect their precious native species.

Radio Australia have reported on an intriguing new method and it is this: implant a microchip-sized poisonous capsule into wild native species. The capsule has a special coating which is degraded by stomach acid.

The theory is that when a feral cat eats its prey the toxic capsule is ingested and the cat’s stomach acid breaks down the coating. VoilĂ , one poisoned feral cat.

Anton Blencowe at the University of South Australia said:

“It’s got a toxin in the middle, and then it’s got a special coating around the outside so that we can make the animals toxic to cats…”

Cat prey which is toxic to cats. Neat. But not so neat I think. I am not an expert but there would appear to be some obstacles to making the project work:

  • What about other predators. They’ll be poisoned too.
  • What about aborigines who eat bushmeat?
  • If there are going to be hundreds of thousands of poisoned feral cats lying around Australia, surely they are a hazard to other predators and scavengers?
  • How are they going to trap millions of wild animals to implant the toxic capsules? Perhaps the plan is to shoot the capsule into the animal’s body. I have no idea. But if you have to go through all that trouble to get a capsule into the prey of feral cats you might as well trap feral cats and neuter them.
  • There is also the immutable argument that poisoning one animal to protect another is both inhumane and an act of speciesism.

Perhaps one day the Aussies will submit to the argument that mass TNR will work if carried out in a well organised manner. Above all else it is a humane method which would be a PR coup for the country.

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Michael is retired! He retired at age 57 and at Aug 2018 is approaching 70. He worked in many jobs. The last job he did was as a solicitor practicing general law. He loves animals and is passionate about animal welfare. He also loves photography and nature. He hates animal abuse. He has owned and managed this site since 2007. There are around 13k pages so please use the custom search facility!


Australian Scientists Dream Up Another Way to Kill Feral Cats — 7 Comments

  1. There was a time when Australia was considered one of the civilized countries. They continue to blow that image all to hell.

  2. Regarding the bushmeat – the chip would be under the skin, like a conventional microchip. Cats eat their prey skin and all. Humans skin and cook prey. Because the cat has poor liver function (due to being an obligate carnivore) it is very susceptible to toxins that would merely make another animal sick or have no affect on other animals (including most humans). AFAIK, Aus doesn’t have other obligate carnivores with poor liver function.

    • And the cats will still breed and reproduce because using the proven method of TNR is distasteful to the manmade problem of feral cats.

    • Thanks for this Sarah. Good stuff as usual. Bearing in mind the sensitivity towards Aboriginals that white Aussies have, I wonder if any example of creating a potential hazard to their health would be acceptable to mainstream society. There is probably a slight risk that the toxin could get into a human eating bushmeat. That risk may be enough to affect how the project is marketed.

      • Bear in mind that paracetamol – a painkiller for humans – is deadly to cats (and is sometimes mixed into milk placed out to kill feral cats) and you’ll understand just how differently cats and humans react to chemicals.

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