Biocontrols on rabbits may cause feral cat predation on endangered species

Australia: Australia uses biocontrols on rabbits to reduce their numbers because rabbits degrade the land and therefore threaten other species. Bicontrols in this instance means introducing a virus, myxomatosis, to kill rabbits en masse.

Feral cat Australia with GPS collar
A feral cat fitted with a GPS collar. Photo: Hugh McGregor/Arid Recovery
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

The question is whether in killing rabbits in large numbers it causes feral cats to start killing endangered, native species because the rabbit is no longer available as prey.

It would be ironic if the authorities were in fact indirectly killing native species in this way because there is a lot of discussion about feral cats killing native species. The authorities are desperate to curb feral cat predation on precious native species.

There is an element of carelessness in the actions of the Australian authorities charged with the conservation of wildlife because they don’t know if their actions are jeopardising endangered native species. You’d have thought that they would have worked through the full consequences of killing rabbits before they started.

Late in the day a research project is being set up to see if ‘prey switching’ is occurring amongst feral cats. A study will take place in the Arid Recovery Reserve in South Australia. The research is particularly pertinent to arid and semi-arid regions of Australia where cats and rabbits are the two significant threats to endangered wildlife including the Plains Mouse living in central South Australia.

Read more about this on Threatened Species Recovery Hub.

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Useful tag. Click to see the articles: Cat behavior

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