Feral cats have been in the news so much this week I decided to devote an entire 'Snap Shots' to what is recognised as the greatest threat there is to Australia's native wildlife. I detest the things and think that it's high time the Australian government turned some serious resources towards controlling this feline scourge - including having much tighter control on domestic cats. Get yourself a coffee and have a read of these five different stories, all from the ABC, which discuss everything from the extent of the problem to a very interesting potential solution. And thanks heaps to Alex Juris for his great pic of a bone fide feral cat that he kindly let me use as the opening pic.
Tassie devil v feral cats
Let's start with a positive story and a potential solution. I'm no zoologist or ecologist, but I love the idea of re-introducing native wildlife that could potentially drive out feral cats and keep their numbers down. In this article and radio interview, a Chief Scientist with the Australian Wildlife Conservancy has suggested that re-introducing Tasmanian devils into Victoria could be one way of taking the fight right back to the feral cat.
Feral cats v bilbies
Now for the bad news. Another article has documented how feral cats have torn through Queensland's last wild population of bilbies. Over 3,000 cats have been shot in Astrebla Downs National Park, but the native bilby population has dwindled to as few as 200.
The proof is in the...cat
As if we needed any more convincing, here is an article revealing that when one feral cat's stomach was dissected it contained at least 50 whole mammals and reptiles. It's a sobering photo, which you'll need to click at the bottom of the article to see (apparently the ABC was worried about offending people - nevermind our native wildlife). Do the sums on 50 native animals in the stomach's of at least 20 million feral cats...scary.
Cats driving extinction wave
The sum total of the feral cat's voracious appetite for native marsupials and reptiles is that they are now said to be driving "the second great extinction wave". For his part, Environment Minister Greg Hunt says he is keen to roll out a 10 year plan to eradicate the pest. OK. Let's see it!
Cat's hunting strategies
Finally, we have this piece about one of the strategies that cats use to maximise their efficiency when hunting native animals. According to this report, feral cats in remote locations have discovered that hunting in recently burnt areas is much easier. They have apparently leanred to look for signs of bushfire, and turn up in numbers at the affected areas around two weeks after the flames have gone.