Poisoning Feral Cats
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Scarz
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Sat Apr 27, 2019 7:09 am
I just heard that Australia is planning on poisoning millions of feral cats, I heard they would be dropping poisoned sausages in the outback. I understand the government says the feral cats are wiping out native species, but. . .how can they be sure that the poisoned sausages will only be eaten by the feral cats, or that the poisoned cats won't be eaten by native species? wouldn't that be doing more harm to the native species than the cats?

Are there programs in Australia for spaying and neutering of the strays in the cities? I realize there is no way to round up the feral cats that are in the wild for spaying and neutering, but is poison the best answer? Especially since it is said to take up to 15 minutes or more for it to work.

I heard some areas have bounties for cat "scalps", so I guess not all guns were confiscated there, but compared to poisoning, shooting sounds more "humane".

Cats have been there since the 1700's, so I am sure there may be way more than 2 million feral cats out there; I just wonder if there is another way to handle this.

It also says that New Zealand is considering drastic action, too.

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bohemian
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Sat Apr 27, 2019 7:50 am
All I can say is that feral cats are a HUGE problem. And it's not just feral cats either. People who have exclusively outdoor cats are a problem too. And this subject has been around for close to, if not over 5 years.

I personally haven't done any reading into this topic (been busy with uni stuff lately), but I do know that there has been talk about using poison to reach the feral populations. Poison drops are often used, along with other measures (I have a friend who gets brought in to shoot feral dogs and foxes and other feral animals in his local area), to try to control the feral dog population.

Again, I haven't done any reading, so I don't know the locations where they will plan on doing drops, but the only carnivore type animal that would eat the dead bodies would be the native dingo. But there is the "Rabbit Proof Fence" and I am pretty sure there is also a "Dingo Fence", so whether or not these will play a factor in controlling where the poisons will be dropped, I don't know. There will possibly also be some native rodent species and scavenger bird species that could be affected by this decision.

There is also a huge issue, that while there are places in the cities that offer, in some cases free or heavily discounted, micro-chipping and neutering of both cats and dogs, not to mention several local...ish pounds in my area, only let people adopt cats and dogs when they have been neutered. The cost of adoption covers the cost of a whole check up with shots and the neutering, so they aren't out of pocket. A lot of the population, much like their own irresponsible breeding habits, are not responsible pet owners and let them breed and...ya know, greed and all, sell the offspring. When I eventually become a dog owner, that dog is getting neutered.

Also going to say that I recall that Tasmania has been either having the discussion about eradicating, not just feral cats, but domestic cats as well. Not out right killing of the domestic cat, but not allowing any more to come in and no breeding. In the case of Tasmania, my main concern would be the Tasmanian Devil, which is already under siege with the facial tumour they have been dealing with for close to, if not over 20 years. They are a scavenger species and typically will feed on road kill.

Speaking of guns, "Less than a month after the Port Arthur massacre, federal and state legislators crafted the National Firearms Agreement. It created extensive licensing and registration procedures, which included a 28-day waiting period for gun sales. In addition, it banned all fully automatic or semi-automatic weapons, except when potential buyers could provide a valid reason—which did not include self-defense—for owning such a firearm. The federal government also instituted a gun-buyback program, which resulted in the surrender of some 700,000 firearms. Although gun-related deaths dropped dramatically, the new rules were sharply criticized by gun-rights advocates." Basically, you need to be licensed and registered to own and shoot any type of guns...aside from the fully automatic and semi-automatic weapons. And aside from sports people, farmers and hunters are typically the only people who are licensed and registered to own and shoot a gun.
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Scarz
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Sat Apr 27, 2019 3:15 pm
Thank you Lady bo, I had no idea that the feral animals were such a problem. I do know that there are other intrusive animals that had been brought in to Australia that were causing problems (just as there have been here, but not to the same extent), but like most people, I would never think of cats or dogs as being that intrusive, and you are right it goes all the way back to when they were first brought in, that there have been and still are irresponsible owners.

My biggest concern is that the poison could have as much of an effect on the native animals as it will on the feral cats; or some other extreme unintended circumstances.

I understand that foxes were originally brought in for recreational hunting and that they too are contributing to the decline of indigenous animals, you would think that they would also help keep down the feral cat populations as here, whenever there is a fox in the neighborhood, outdoor cats have a tendency to disappear.

I had heard that New Zealand is considering what Tasmania is and I have watched some specials on the problems with the Tasmanian Devils, I would hate to see them go extinct, like the Tasmanian Tigers did (another black mark for uncontrolled "sport" hunting).

I think what many pro-gun Americans don't understand is that countries like Australia and New Zealand do not have a Constitution that has a 2nd Amendment like ours; and without getting into a debate about it, the problem with gun laws here is that they only affect law-abiding citizens.

I have no clue how anything that is done with the feral animals could be done without affecting the native animals. . .I do not know if it is even possible for some sort of poison or even something that would neuter them could be designed to only affect them and I think that is what the real problem is.

I believe that every animal shelter here does spay and neutering of any animals you can adopt. When I first started working at a casino, you used to see a lot of stray or feral cats. We even had a lady who used to set traps for them and then take them to a vet for spaying and neutering. We don't seem to have any stray or feral cats around the casino property any more, but I heard that the company approached the lady and warned her that if she trapped the animals, that if she brought them back to the property, the company would put poison out.

Our bigger problem now seems to be abandoned rabbits. . .people getting them as pets and not being responsible and then dumping them in parks and such. Some of our shelters have more rabbits than they have dogs and cats; and some of our shelters are still "kill" shelters, so there is still a problem with irresponsible owners.

I did find these maps showing where feral cats and red fox populations are:

feral cats

red foxes

I think it unusual that the largest population of both seem to be in exactly the same area of South Australia. You would think that the foxes would take of the feral cats.



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Rayven
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Sat Apr 27, 2019 6:14 pm
This is so sad. I understand there's a problem, but this is horrible. I feel sorry for the native animals that are getting killed out too though. I wish there was a way to mass sterilize them instead of poisoning them. Something needs to change or this will just happen again.
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bohemian
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Sun Apr 28, 2019 5:27 am
I think the biggest problem is that Australia and New Zealand are islands...NZ is technically two islands, but the point is, we're both isolated from the problems of other places that are interconnected via landmasses.

Without me looking anything up, the feral animals that I know of in Australia are, cats, dogs, foxes, rabbits, horses aka the brumby, cane toads, goats, deer, water buffalo, pigs, camels, donkeys, the common myna aka Indian myna.

Lets see...the cane toad was brought in as a biological control for the cane beetle. The cane toad found other things it could eat and is just as deadly for native animals as it is for domestic and feral animals. Cats and dogs obviously brought over as either pets, or working animals in terms of the dogs. Foxes, rabbits and I guess deer were brought over for good old English sport, with rabbits being a huge problem...hence the reason why they have a whole fence named after them. Horses, camels and donkeys obviously brought over to work, possibly water buffalo too, but not sure about them. They could be in the same class as the goats and pigs, which is food production. And that damned irritating bird, was also brought it as a biological control for locust. And there is also the vermin that is the common pigeon.

I know most people would prefer sterilisation of the cats and dogs...and it would be a great idea if it started back at the pet owners, who decided not to spay or neuter their animals, or in the case of certain breeds, didn't get it done in time before the animal either, escaped and went rogue, or got frightened by loud noises like a thunderstorm or fireworks and ran off and got lost and never got recovered. But, the biggest issue here, is that cats and dogs are hunters by nature. And as ferals, they need to hunt for food. While the woman who trapped the cats and got them fixed is doing a great job with that, the big issue is re-releasing them as ferals. Because they will still be a threat to the native animals. They won't be able to breed any more and make the population bigger and the already bad problem worse, but they can and will still kill. They have to to survive.

Aerial poison drops might not even work...in a good season where there is bountiful food. But in a time like now, where most of the east coast of Australia is in a seriously bad drought? It could do a LOT of damage, not just to the feral populations, but also parts of the native populations too. In the long run it is a calculated risk. Yes, there are areas that do have bounties for certain feral animals, typically foxes and dogs, because it is in a farming community with easily targeted young, such as sheep, but in other areas...typically have to rely on hunters to come in with their pigging dogs to hunt down the feral pigs or deer (usually without the dogs) to help get the numbers down.

Lord Howe Island is an interesting case study of trying to eradicate rats. They have had in the past, a rat bounty. I'm not sure what the state of things are with that now, but it's been an ongoing issue for decades.
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Scarz
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Sun Apr 28, 2019 5:03 pm
The horrible part about this is that putting a bounty on them, shooting them is more humane and not as indiscriminate as poisoning them. . .it is the only way to insure that native wild life won't be harmed.

It looks like the Howe Island eradication program has been delayed. . .I think with some of the same concerns over the poison part of their plan.

It appears that there is no good way around around these problems.


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bohemian
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Mon Apr 29, 2019 5:36 am
https://aso.gov.au/titles/documentaries/jewel-of-the-pacific/clip2/

I was talking about earlier efforts for the rat eradication program. The video in the link shows how they did it, but it wasn't very effective.

As for the option of shooting the feral cats, in some areas, yeah it could work, but in other areas, it's extremely difficult to get to those areas without requiring either climbing gear or needing to be dropped off via helicopter/plane drop. In those areas, only poisoning would work.

I think in the long run, the government will go with what is most feasible for them. And what is most feasible, will more than likely result in collateral damage with the death of some native animals, but as long as the main objective is taken care of aka the feral cats, it would be deemed a risk worth taking to preserve the rest of the native population.
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Scarz
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Mon Apr 29, 2019 6:12 am
So it is basically, darned if you do, darned if you don't. . .will they lose more native animals to the feral cats. . .or to the poison. Sounds like a King Solomon-type of decision.

Wow, they have been trying to eradicate those rats for a very long time.

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Tue Apr 30, 2019 2:48 pm
Cats in Australia.
Rabbits in Nevada.
Pythons in Florida ... including a 17+ foot long one, with eggs, recently killed in a hunt to try eradicating them.

And various other invasive species all over the place. Sigh
Now that they're "here", there's no really good way to get rid of any of them. Sad
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