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. Voilà, 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.