Elisa has written about the planned attempt to exterminate feral cats on the Dudley Peninsular on Kangaroo Island which my research tells me is in the Australian state of South Australia (link to article).
The authorities of that state have set up automatic traps which dispense a poisonous gel onto feral cats. They say the devices can distinguish between feral cats and other animals but what about domestic cats? Or even small dogs?
The poison is sodium fluoroacetate (1080). This poison has been used in New Zealand to kill so-called pests. It is known to cause a painful, torturous and slow death (source: the animal rights group SAFE).
The program to poison feral cats in South Australia would ordinarily be a crime under their own Animal Welfare Act 1985 but no doubt they have labelled feral cats ‘vermin’ and ‘pests’ and therefore they fall outside of the usual animal protection legislation.
However, both in the UK and in the USA this behaviour would be a crime. In the USA, animal welfare laws are taken on a state-by-state basis but I am familiar with them. There’s no doubt in my mind that to poison feral cats in this indiscriminate manner is a crime (supported by Alley Cat Allies: ‘…Intentionally killing a cat is illegal in all 50 states’) . It’s a crime because of common sense reasons namely it kills cats in a painful way. Therefore it causes unnecessary suffering.
The word “unnecessary” refers to the fact that it is possible to kill feral cats in a more humane manner. I know that the authorities don’t think they can employ the usual TNR practices but it does not excuse them from committing what is essentially the crime of animal cruelty. In the UK poisoning feral cats is a crime under the Animal Welfare Act 2006.
I think this point needs to be made as it highlights the attitude of the authorities in the Antipodes (I’m referring to Australia and New Zealand who have similar attitudes in relation to feral cats). I’ll say it again; settlers created feral cats through carelessness. The authorities have a moral obligation to deal with them humanely but they don’t care. Australians don’t care about cheating at sport either (cricket). That’s immoral too.
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