The Australian government plans to slash the country’s feral cat population by 2 million over the next five years, officials announced yesterday.
At the Melbourne, Zoo Australian Environment Minister Greg Hunt presented Australia’s Threatened Species Strategy, a comprehensive guide to preserving threatened species – and to culling others.
Current affairs radio program “AM” featured an announcement by the country’s first threatened-species Commissioner, Gregory Andrews. He said Hunt “is declaring war on feral cats, and he’s asked me to take charge of that program.”
War has been declared, Andrews and Hunt say, because feral cats kill native species and have led to the decline and extinction of bird and mammal populations.
In introducing the program, Hunt said: “By 2020, I want to see two million feral cats culled, five new islands and 10 new mainland ‘safe havens’ free of feral cats, and control measures applied across 10 million hectares.”
Language in the Threatened Species Strategy suggests things like, “exploring new and innovative management techniques.” Details later in the 68-page report, however, outline the following tactics to handling feral cats:
These targets will be achieved through a number of actions including;
• use of detector dogs
• improved fire and land
• management practices
• other science-based and innovative measures as they are developed and become available, on the basis that they are humane and effective
The baiting portion of the plan relies on the use of a trademarked product called Curiosity. According to the report: “Our forward actions will include: development and deployment of Curiosity®, the new humane feral cat bait.” We’ve contacted the Australian Government Department of the Environment to clarify what is in the bait and its humane qualities.
We’ve also reached out to the environmental department to clarify the studies they refer to when saying: “The scientific evidence is unequivocal that feral cats are one of the greatest threats to Australia’s land-based mammals.”