CIE Spotlight: Australian predators can provide 24-7 feral cat control

Euan R.
Euan R.

How serious is the cat problem? According to Dr Eaun Ritchie, a senior lecturer in ecology at Deakin University’s Centre for Integrative Ecology (CIE), It’s been estimated that there may be as many as 15 million feral cats in Australia, each killing about five native animals per night. An astonishingly nightly total of around 75 million native animals.

For a long time the European red fox was seen as enemy number one to our wildlife, particularly mammals, but there’s a growing realisation that its many meals are eclipsed by those of cats, both feral and owned.

So what can we do to reduce the damage done by cats and mitigate this national conservation disaster? The most urgent needs are for vigorous education and awareness campaigns about the impacts of cats on wildlife, and tighter regulations and enforcement around responsible cat ownership.

An aditional crucial step is likely to be returning native top predators, in particular dingoes and Tasmanian devils, to landscapes, so that they can resume their important ecological roles.

Scientific research (PDF) is strongly suggesting that dingoes not only kill cats but also instill fear in them, which means that they avoid areas and times where dingoes are active.

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