Feral Cats In Australia
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FERAL CATS IN AUSTRALIA
Domestic cats originated from an ancestral wild species, the European and African Wild Cat, Felis silvestris. The domestic cat is now recognised as a separate species, Felis catus. Domestic cats arrived in Australia with the Dutch shipwrecks in the 17th century; some of these cats escaped and formed the first generation of the feral cat. During the 19th century cats were intentionally released as a misguided form of rabbit pest control. The feral cat turned into an ecological disaster and has driven many of Australias native animals to endangerment or extinction. With a rapid reproduction rate, it is now estimated that there are over 12 million feral cats in Australia, inhabiting all states, territories and offshore islands.
Feral cat Distribution – now found throughout Australia
Economic Impact: Feral cats have had a negative impact on the economy, repair environmental damage and control costs. Native animals provide a focal point for tourism, which produces a major source of economic return for Australia. The diseases cats carry can spread to and kill domestic livestock, this causes a loss of income in the agricultural and export industries.
Feral cats have a devastating effect on Biological diversity, preying on native birds, marsupials, amphibians, reptiles and insects. They deplete the food of native animals and compete for habitat. Feral cats carry fatal diseases such as toxoplasmosis, which can be passed onto native animals.
Social Impact: The conservation of Australias native wildlife is vital in supporting eco-tourism. The wildlife creates opportunities for leisure and recreational activities eg bird watching. Australia has the worlds most unique wildlife and as we lose it, Australias cultural identity is changed. Native wildlife is also important in the culture of Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders alive.
Political Impact: Conservationists see cats as destructive, however, to others cats are loved pets. The control and destruction of feral cats is technologically and economically feasible but considering ignoring the role cats play in many people lives. There is also a significant cat breeding, veterinary and pet food industry. People who made their living in these sectors would be unlikely to support any politician.
EXCLUSION – special fences are built around areas for native wildlife to flourish, keeping the cats out. (See photo opposite)
SHOOTING – Shooting, cats are lured out of heavy cover using a fox whistle, fur or feathers and meat bites for a safe shot
TRAPPING – A