Christopher C Charles
16 Oct 2015
Amid concerns about its growing feral cats population and its effects on other wildlife, Australia is planning to kill 2 million cats by 2020. The plan has drawn criticism from many, while others support the move as necessary to preserve even greater numbers of Australian wildlife.
17 Oct 2015
It never ceases to amaze me how often the knee-jerk response to what is considered an excess population of any animal is to either kill them or spay/neuter and move them somewhere else. Granted getting rid of the evidence is a lot easier than addressing the underlying question of WHY these populations of animals are there in the first place, i.e. human behavior, habitat destruction or encroachment, etc. Until we are willing to tackle causes instead of effects, these problems will continue to arise. But unfortunately addressing causes takes time and commitment, and those seeking tangible results to add to their political or professional credentials as quickly as possible may lack it.
Treating animal over populations problems without a full understanding of the factors that underlie it is like using a broad spectrum antibiotic or pesticide to deal with an infection, insect or other perceived threat. In the long run, the unintended consequences of doing this may create far more serious problems than that which one hoped to "cure".
Alan M. Beck
22 Oct 2015
I have received many queries about the Australian government’s plan to collect and kill many thousands of feral cats. What we must appreciate is that whether or not the plan is implemented, thousands of animals will die; the question is which ones. On one hand it will be ownerless cats that were brought to the island nation, where they prey on small birds and mammals that evolved without the defenses against such predation; while on the other hand, it will be the native, often endangered, indigenous animals that are part of the countries heritage and economy. The loss of a species is like the burning of the last copy of an important book—it will never be returned to the world. Permitting the cats to exist in their present numbers will kill more animals than the culling.
Many have suggested that trapping, neutering, and releasing (TNR) the cats would solve the problem. People forget that TNR only slowly lowers cat numbers in somewhat closed populations and only when continuously employed. The cats in Australia are extensive with lots of opportunities for recruitment of new intact members. Also, neutered cats still kill throughout their lifetime, perhaps even more efficiently as they are not slowed down by pregnancy or nursing.
There are many situations when animal culling is done for public health or protecting the environment. The decision is always hard and it takes courage.
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