Australian proposal would wipe wild cats from continent
March 14, 1997
Web posted at: 8:05 p.m. EST (0105 GMT)
From Correspondent John Raedler
SYDNEY, Australia (CNN) -- Australia is home to many unique
species -- the kangaroo and the platypus counting among the best
But have you ever heard of the Brush-Tailed Bettong? The
Eastern Barred Bandicoot? The Bilby? All are among
Australia's endangered species, and according to Australia's
government, their reduction is the fault of wild cats. (1.3 MB / 37 sec. QuickTime movie)
So, despite fierce criticism and lack of support from
government, one Australian politician is standing by his
controversial proposal to eradicate all cats from that
country. Richard Evans says cats, a species not native to
Australia, are eating all its animals.
"Cats are known to kill and eat more than 100 species of
birds, 50 species of mammals, 50 species of reptiles," Evans
And Dr. Tim Flannery of the Australian Museum says the native
animals aren't equipped to fight with cats. "We've done some
tests with our native animals to show that they don't
recognize cat scent, for instance, as representing a threat,"
Late last year, Evans decided enough was enough, and called
for the "total eradication of cats in Australia."
Evans believes there are 10 million to 12 million feral cats
in Australia -- each of them, on average, killing three
native animals a day. If those estimates are accurate, that
means a mind-boggling massacre of about 12 billion native
animals a year.
Animal welfare specialist Charles Wright says the proposal is
"You'll never wipe out all cats," he said. And, he said the
estimates of how many animals a cat kills daily were
manufactured "by a farfetched politician who just wants to
obtain some sort of publicity for his own end -- at the
expense of the poor old cat."
Evans told CNN that domestic cats are as big a problem as
"A domestic cat could be considered feral once it steps out
of the back door. Domestic cats are only one good meal away
from being feral," he said. But he was vague on how total
eradication would be achieved.
"Shooting might be a solution, trapping, baiting. There's a
whole range of different things," he said.
Shooting has been tried before. In the early 1990s,
Australian soldiers were called in to get rid of troublesome
feral cats in the Outback.
But even in cities, there is an abundance of cats. Thousands
of cats have to be destroyed each week at animal welfare
centers throughout the country.
However, Evans' proposal is unlikely to be passed, because
all levels of government have dismissed the idea of
They agree with animal-welfare authorities that rather than a
quick-fix solution to the cat problem, all that is possible
is better management through measures such as mandatory
desexing and keeping domestic cats from roaming.
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