MELBOURNE—The Australian government has declared war on feral cats, making a recent announcement to kill approximately two million of them over the course of five years in an effort to slow these predatory animals and preserve the native species they prey on.
Officials say the campaign will help protect endangered species put at risk by an overpopulation of wild cats. There is an estimated 20 million feral cats in the country, killing approximately 75 million native animals every day. Scientists say the felines may be responsible for 28 extinctions since their arrival via European settlers 200 years ago.
Feral cats are being blamed for the declining populations of endangered bilbys, bandicoots, bettongs and numbats. The country is now classifying the wild cats as pests. Australian Environment Minister Greg Hunt declared the government is “drawing a line in the sand” when he announced their plan in mid-July. Hunt told the Australia Broadcasting Corporation:
“On our watch, in our time, no more species extinction.”
Hunt aims to create feral cat-free safe havens by 2020 with mass elimination plans that include shooting, as well as poisoning with a “humane” toxin. Online petitions are already in the works to prevent the culling before it begins.
Australia’s threatened-species commissioner Gregory Andrews says,