Going, going, gone… 200 years and counting

A new paper, this week, from John Woinarski and his colleagues in Australia, is a sweeping and utterly depressing account of the continuing decline in Australian mammals.

Can someone please invent something that kills cats but nothing Australian?

Jon

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10 Comments on “Going, going, gone… 200 years and counting”


  1. Already happens with aerial dropping of 1080 poison baits – I guess there are just too many foxes, cats and cane toads…

    • Jon Hall Says:

      Thanks though my understanding is (or at least was 10 years ago) that its much harder to get cats to take bait – they tend not to scavenge, plus 1080 tends to kill native stuff outside of the south west where the native fauna has immunity to it. Some sort of Cat myxomatosis would be ideal though Australia’s pet lovers would be up in arms of course. Its such a mess 😦 Jon


      • Agree Jon, 1080 can only be used in a part of WA. But it also shows us that the introduction cats is only a part of this complex problem; extensive land clearing including the destruction of Gastrolobium undergrowth and native animal habitat is another key factor in native mammal decline. And in areas where cats have been eradicated an increase in predation on native mammals by foxes has been shown. I guess that with the enormous numbers of feral cats the breeding of endangered species and their release on isolated islands has proven to be the only successful conservation measure so far.

  2. Cheryl Antonucci Says:

    Panleukopenia is a really horrible way to die having treated it in pet cats too many times in my life. I don’t like feral cats killing wildlife either, but would not wish that disease in anything.

    • Jon Hall Says:

      Fair point Cheryl. Just to reassure you that I am not a total cat-sadist and my “nice” was directed towards the effectiveness of the disease rather than the pain. Australia desperately needs something as effective (albeit preferably more humane) before another 20 species go extinct from the triple whammy of foxes, fire and cats. But while there is some hope at addressing the first two, the last is more difficult … meanwhile the continent sounds like its heading towards ecocide. It makes me very sad.

  3. Cheryl Antonucci Says:

    Yeah Jon I totally agree. Are people in Austaralia as bad as Americans about letting pet cats have a lot of outside access as well? I am sure that doesn’t help, like with our songbird problem. It’s amazing how many clients try to tell me it’s cruel to keep cats inside, as they brought ones to me that have been hit by cars or mauled by dogs or poisoned. I wish there was a good trapping program that could be done but with the size of the country I am sure that is next to impossible.

    • Jon Hall Says:

      Yes I am sure the Australian cat owners are as bad, though at least the government is trying to legislate them into good behaviour. In Canberra there are now “cat containment” suburbs where any cat found outside after dark will be taken home and the owner fined http://www.canberratimes.com.au/act-news/time-is-up-for-canberras-fat-unrestrained-cats-20141010-10r6v8.html . But this won’t achieve much I think except at a local level. The real issue is a well established population of feral cats across every bit of the continent. And there’s about 20 million of them, eating their way through 75 million native animals a night: and all of the prey are hopelessly unadapted to deal with cats. Trapping just wouldn’t be practical (there’s more cats than people!) and so a biological control is needed. Can’t you invent one in your lab sometime?


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