Animal Justice MP says feral cats deserve equal consideration to threatened native wildlife

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Alex Druce from the Land Newspaper reports on the deluded arguements Animal Justice MP Mark Pearson has put forward at the NSW budget estimates.  

The Animal Justice MP looks to be throwing a life line to animals that people keep as pets. Forgetting completely about the import issues surrounding the survival of our vulnerable native species. 

CATS roaming the bush aren’t feral - but “free-living” - and deserving of equal consideration to the native wildlife they prey on, NSW budget estimates has heard.

But it seems unlikely NSW Animal Justice MP Mark Pearson will get his wish for government to study the merits of desexing feral cats and allowing them to live back among threatened fauna.

During a budget estimates hearing last week Mr Pearson asked Primary Industries Minister Niall Blair if he would back research into the benefits of a trap, neuter and release program for “free-living” cats, instead of euthanising them.

Mr Pearson argued that culling feral cats did not solve the problem in areas with ample food and water, but instead created a vacuum that could be quickly filled by other feline predators.

Mr Pearson said desexed feral cats, once re-released, could prevent new feral cats hunting on their turf before gradually dying out - “a win-win rather than a kill-kill”.

The problem I have with the trap-neuter-return policy is that it does not address the impact that cats—free-living, feral or whatever you want to call them—have on wildlife populations, particularly native wildlife populations,” Mr Blair said.Mr Blair was quick to dismiss the idea. 

“I am still learning bits and pieces (about) you and your party, and I still cannot understand how that concept is something that your party can (accept).”  -Ag Minister Niall Blair to Animal Justice MP Mark Pearson

Mr Pearson said his party’s goal was to protect native wildlife as well as feral cats under the concept of equal consideration for all animals.

Feral cats have been identified by the government as one of the primary causes of declines and extinctions of Australian native mammals and birds over the last 200 years, and have contributed to the failure of numerous attempts to reintroduce threatened native fauna.

DPI director general Scott Hansen told the hearing the RSPCA had lobbied government to continue funding education and increase community awareness about responsible pet ownership, and to continue targeted desexing programs as more effective methods than a trap, neuter and release regime. 

Mr Blair also flagged potential legal problems for any trap-neuter-return program, which he said could constitute an offence under the Companion Animals Act 1998, as it compromised the welfare of native birds. 

During budget estimates Mr Pearson also repeated calls to mandate pain relief for sheep mulesing, and pushed for farmed ducks to have access to swimming water. 

He also asked for government to consider fertility programs to control Snowy Mountain wild brumby numbers instead of culling them.

The scary thing is these people are meant to be leading our country.  

Original article can be found here


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