Pet and Feral Cats Killing Australia's Natives

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As more scientific studies are published the grimmer, the picture that is being painted of the destruction cats are causing to our Australian native wildlife. This most recent study also launches pet cats into the mix as they believe a majority of owners do not know the extent that their cats roam.

As hunters, we need to kill more cats and its time State Governments focused their attention to the animals doing the real damage to our Australian natives. Their focus on deer and pigs is often driven out of the anti-gun lobbies as they are a popular game for hunters. Bounties need to be considered to get more native killers like dogs, foxes and cats targeted.

ABC News reported the research, published in the new book, Cats in Australia: Companion and Killer, revealed each feral cat in the bush would kill about 740 animals per year.

Meanwhile, a domesticated cat would kill about 75 animals annually. 

In total, the book's authors said cats would kill more than 3 million mammals, 2 million reptiles and 1 million birds every day.

The book is a compilation of key findings from hundreds of studies about cat management.

One of the lead authors, Professor Sarah Legge from the Australian National University, said cats were especially dangerous to wildlife.

"They're incredibly versatile predators, they'll prey on anything that's in the right size range that they can get access to," Professor Legge said.

"They're very good at adapting to new situations, they can live in a really wide range of habitats — more so than any other feral species in Australia.

"From the deserts to the rainforests, from the north coast to the south coast, east to west — they cover the whole continent."

Professor Legge said cats were also quick breeders and in some cases could outnumber their prey. 

She said there was a misconception that feral cats helped to keep down the numbers of other feral animals, including rabbits and mice.

"Actually, these introduced species are a food source, boosting the number of cats and hence increasing their impact," she said.

"Australia's mammal extinction rate is by far the highest in the world.

"Cats have been a leading cause of at least 20 of our mammal extinctions over the last 200 years."

Pets are killing wildlife

Professor Legge said domestic cats roamed much further than their owners thought they would.

She pointed to research which saw pet cats fitted with GPS trackers.

"Pet cat owners are not always as aware of their pet's movements as they think they are," she said.

"There's a lot of variation across pet cats and how much wildlife they kill — some cats don't kill wildlife, but then other cats kill a very large number of wildlife.

"But for pets, the management options are very different — you're not going to go and lay poison baits around suburbs and carry out shooting programs."

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