Australia’s national government decided in 2015 to kill two million feral cats by 2020, citing there are groups of small threatened rodent and marsupial species becoming extinct -blaming it on the cats.
According to the New York Times, cats arrived on the continent in the 17th and 19th centuries with settlers. Wild cat populations are now estimated to be nearly 15 million, and these cats are supposed to be threatening the survival of more than 100 species in Australia. The Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology estimates 211,560 cats have been killed since the cull began.
So how is the government killing these cats? First there are boxes filled with thousands of poisoned frozen sausages produced in a factory developed by a man called “Dr. Death.” The poison is a mixture of kangaroo meat, chicken fat, herbs and spices and the poison -referred to as 1080 – a derivative from gastrolobium plants is lethal to cats and foxes. The bait is dropped from twin-engine aircraft and flown over the areas where the cats roam dropping half a million baits in just one month.
When the news hit social media, at least a half-dozen petitions garnered more than 160,000 signatures and include Brigitte Bardot calling the culling animal genocide. The public outrage, however has not stopped the government from going ahead with their plans, despite the danger to domestic cats.
Local conservationists state that feral cats have established a firm foothold in the country, and even in the most remote areas of the country, cats hunt native animals.
“Australians have a huge appreciation for our natural fauna. Most people have empathy wit the fact that there is all this wildlife being killed and it is taking its toll on the environment, so I think there is a general feeling that something has to be done,” wrote a Queensland veterinarian.
Many of the methods used to “control the cat population” are cruel and inhumane. There is a robot that can recognize a passing cat and eject poison that the cat will later ingest while grooming. Then there are the bow and arrow shooters who grin with delight as they hold up their dead cat trophies. The bow hunters are not part of the government program, but support for killing cats is high, however the degree of cruelty cuts to the hearts of those who love their cats.
“… a tortoiseshell cat bolted out of a clutch of stubby grasstrees and Wilksch took aim, hitting the cat in the head. The wounded cat streaked across a clearing, the arrow trailing after it, and became entangled in a fence. Wilksch took another shot. Pierced twice, the cat still freed itself from the fence and ran away.”
After the news segment about the tortoiseshell cat aired on television, the feedback was filled with vitriol aimed towards the hunters and Dr. Death. Hate messages and death threats flooded in; watching a cat struggle against such an assault was nothing short of animal cruelty.
However, the killing of cats continue – even as far as hobby shooters who like to venture out on weekends to kill a cat.One group of scientists, however sees the eradication of the cats as a bias towards native species and opines that the country should view cats as an element of the environment.
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