Friday, February 26, 2010

Australian cats

Thanks to E_cat for sending me this link. I went to the actual website of the Invasive Animal Co-Operative Research Centre and wasn't able to find the press release.

Now I can understand the need to protect other wildlife - though I hate the fact that 'native' wildlife is supposed to be more 'important' somehow than other wildlife. If we're talking about 'native wildlife' than nothing is less native than us humans. Australia, Singapore, the US and many other countries are nations of immigrants - the animals were there way before us, and if we left the area untouched, I think ALL the animals would fare better. In addition, look at the native kangaroo and the damage it causes - somehow I doubt it's 'native' status will protect it if economic interests are involved in the long run.

As I said though, I can see that damage to animals and property may be an issue. For example, I love foxes and have some in my yard - but I don't have animals that may be hunted by the foxes. I do have a friend who has chickens though - and he doesn't want the foxes to get at his chickens. The farmer I just met has the same issue - foxes got at his ducks. The solution? Not to kill the foxes - but both installed electric fences that keep foxes out.

Now I'm sure Australia's wildlife issues are vast and there are many concerns that we may not be familiar with, having not lived there. However, I don't see how killing the feral cats will help. If trapping for a TNRM programme is intensive and time consuming, what about trapping to kill?

Furthermore, while the Invasive Animal Co-Operation Research Centre states that cats threaten certain species of wildlife, on another website also managed by them, it also states that 'well quantified evidence of their impact on native wildlife on the Australian mainland is lacking'.

It further goes on to state that 'Feral cats have occupied tropical Australia, Tasmania and Kangaroo Island for well over 100 years but there have been virtually no extinctions of native animals on which feral cats prey in these areas. Feral cats may become an important factor when other factors such as land clearing and other forms of large-scale habitat degradation have restricted remaining populations of native wildlife to small island populations.' (bolding mine).

Note also that it states that the feral cat population is self-sustaining and stray and home cat populations add almost nothing to the feral cat population.

So what is really the problem here? The feral cats, which have caused virtually NO extinctions - or the land clearing and large-scale habitat degradation?

I hope that this article has just been mis-reported. Should more studies be done on the impact of cats? Absolutely. But should they be skewed or demonised without any solid evidence? Also, shouldn't a long term solution be found - removing and killing the cats, whether by toxins or any other method isn't going to solve the issue of cats reproducing.


Anonymous said...

My faith in humanity just went down another notch. Australia kills introduced animals to protect indigenous species, then kills native species(kangaroos) to protect non-native cattle. 2010 and nothing ever changes. I've been to Kangaroo Island before actually, a pity the island's natural beauty has to be marred by this kind of ugliness.

Dawn said...

Thanks for that N - nice to know someone who's actually been there.