Feral cats a threat to Australia’s wildlife

2014-10-16 12:34

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Sydney - Feral cats pose a threat to the survival of more than 100 native animals in Australia, national threatened species commissioner Gregory Andrews said on Thursday.

The 15 to 20 million wild felines that roam the vast continent kill almost 29 billion native animals each year, he wrote in an article on the ABC news website.

"They have become a powerfully damaging part of our ecology. With each feral cat killing up to four native animals per day, the total carnage is up to 80 million native animal deaths daily", Andrews said.

"They have contributed to at least 28 Australian extinctions in the past 100 years, including one of our two bilby species, bandicoots, bettongs, potoroos, wallabies and many other small mammals, birds and lizards."

Andrews said the cats also spread diseases that affect native species, livestock and humans.

The government has identified the problem as a priority and strategies such as an expanded network of large cat-proof enclosures to protect and grow native species were being developed, he said.

Efforts to eradicate the cats also includes the multi-million dollar Curiosity Bait programme to poison them using a toxin hidden in meat.

Scientists say efforts to eliminate foxes in Australia have left feral cats as the dominant predators. Authorities in Tasmania are considering the introduction of the Tasmanian devil in the island states' Wilsons Promontory National Park.

The scavenger species naturally compete with feral cats and foxes for food and nesting space and eat kittens and pups.

Cats and foxes were introduced to Australia by European settlers in the early 1800s.

Read more on:    australia  |  animals

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