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Australian government declares war on feral cats

Canberra, Sep 7 (IANS) Australia’s Minister for the Environment and Water Tanya Plibersek on Thursday declared war on feral cats in a bid to protect iconic native species from extinction.

Plibersek on Thursday launched a new action plan to stop feral cats from decimating wildlife and pushing native species to the brink of extinction.

According to a research published by Australian National University (ANU) in 2019, cats kill more than 2 billion reptiles, birds and mammals in Australia every year.

In a statement, Plibersek said that feral cats have played a role in two thirds of Australian mammal extinctions over the last 200 years and are a threat to more than 200 listed threatened species, reports Xinhua news agency.

“When domesticated cats are living inside our homes, snuggled up at the end of our beds, we rightly love them. But feral cats are the opposite of adorable. They are walking, stalking, ruthless killers,” she said.

“If we don’t act now, our native animals don’t stand a chance. Cats kill 6 million animals every night in Australia. They played a role in Australia’s two latest extinctions. And they are one of the main reasons Australia is the mammal extinction capital of the world,” said the Minister.

“I want to see a feral cat-free Australia. If we are serious about protecting our precious threatened species, then we have to tackle one of their biggest killers. We are declaring war on feral cats. And today, we are setting up our battle plan to win that war.”

The action plan outlines legislative, planning and research needs to ensure effective management of feral cats by preventing them from spreading to islands, removing them from key areas and expanding cat-free fenced havens.

According to the government, feral cats threaten the survival of over 100 native species in Australia.

They have caused the extinction of some ground-dwelling birds and small to medium-sized mammals.

They are a major cause of decline for many land-based endangered animals such as the bilby, bandicoot, bettong and numbat.

Feral cats can carry infectious diseases which can be transmitted to native animals, domestic livestock and humans.

They are the same species as domestic cats, however they live and reproduce in the wild and survive by hunting or scavenging.

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