The SSAA is very supportive of the Australian Government’s decision to cull two million feral cats by 2020. We have been in contact with the Threatened Species Commissioner (TSC), Gregory Andrews, to express our commitment to help achieve this. He has acknowledged that we certainly have a part to play through the coordinated programs undertaken by our Conservation & Wildlife Management branches, our SSAA Farmer Assist program and our members’ own personal activities on the private lands they have access to.
It has been reported that feral cats are responsible for up to two-thirds of native animal extinctions and the number of species threatened by feral cats is approximately 120. Even the RSPCA has backed the TSC’s call that culling is most appropriate because it is humane, justified and effective.
After attending the TSC’s first Feral Cat Community Roundtable meeting in early September last year, this was evident. Following that meeting, one could be under the impression that those there who opposed the culling of feral cats had enough information now to understand that there was no other feasible option to deal with them. It was clear to everyone there that something had to be done.
However, 1080 baiting was a contentious issue with many concerned about its humaneness. The widespread availability of a new toxin known as PAPP would overcome most concerns and the TSC said he would do all in his power to roll this out as soon as possible. The concept of Trap, Neuter, Return (TNR) was raised but this option was demonstrated to be cost prohibitive and just not feasible. At approximately $6000 per cat, it was simply too expensive and not justifiable.
Recently, we came across statements made by New South Wales MP Mark Pearson, from the Animal Justice Party. It seems that Mr Pearson is still a firm believer of the Animal Liberation’s main policies towards pest management… simply leave them alone or TNR. In response to the Federal Government’s plan to humanely cull feral cats, it was reported that he said “we need to stop demonising” (leave alone) feral cats and we must “end land clearing, phase out animal agriculture and revegetate and re-forest marginal land currently being used for sheep and cattle farming”. So it’s a ‘yes’ to letting feral cats run wild but a big ‘no’ to having livestock.
The craziest quote of the report was that “cats roaming the bush weren’t feral, but free living and were deserving of equal consideration to the native wildlife they prey on”. Mr Pearson’s argument against culling was for every cat killed in a cull it will be replaced by a survivor’s kittens that will expand into the culled cat’s territory. His idea of a win-win situation would be that feral cats are simply desexed and once re-released they could prevent new feral cats hunting on their turf before gradually dying out.
One could pose the question that once a desexed cat dies, would this also mean that a kitten from a survivor of the desexing campaign (ie, cats not desexed) would replace that cat anyway? In other words, this is just a crazy and expensive idea that would fail to achieve a positive outcome for our native animals. Desexed feral cats will still kill native animals… culled ones won’t.
It’s scary to think that the NSW Parliament has someone in there who is so blinded by animal rights ideology that they will not support a campaign to save millions of native animals from feral cat predation. At least we as a community will act responsibly, accept this challenge and do what we can to save our wildlife.