08:05 GMT +324 October 2019
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    Nine Lives and Then Some: Australia to Cull Nearly Two Million Feral Cats

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    Australia is at war with feral cats and hopes to get rid of almost 2,000,000 of them by 2020, a move that the government says is aimed at preserving scores of native species that are on the verge of extinction because of the cats' predatory behavior.

    Australia has announced a plan to cull its massive feral cat population in order to help protects dozens of native species that face extinction due to the cats' predatory behavior, media reports said.

    Earlier this week, Gregory Andrews, Australia's First Threatened-Species Commissioner, said that the country's Environment Minister Greg Hunt "is declaring war on feral cats, and he's asked me to take charge of that program."

    The five-year plan, which was unveiled by Hunt at a Melbourne zoo on Thursday, specifically stipulates protecting Australia's native mammal and bird populations from feral cats.

    "By 2020, I want to see 2 million feral cats culled, five new islands and 10 new mainland 'safe havens' free of feral cats, and control measures applied across 10 million hectares," Hunt said.

    Feral cats have already been blacklisted by all of Australia's states and territories as "pests."

    The government in turn promised that the culls that will include baiting, shooting or poisoning will be carried out in as "humane and effective" a manner as possible. A whopping 6.6 million AUD have been allocated for the purpose.

    Andrews, for his part, struck a pacifying tone when speaking of the plan.

    "It's very important to emphasize, too, that we don't hate cats. We just can't tolerate the damage that they're doing anymore to our wildlife," he said.

    Right now, at least 20 mammal, 20 bird and 30 plant species remain at risk of extinction in Australia, where a total of 10 new feral cat-free enclosures will be established in the foreseeable future, according to the plan.

    wild cat
    © Photo : Daniele Paccaloni
    As for the mammal species, they include the numbat, mala, greater bilby mountain pygmy-possum, golden bandicoot, brush-tailed rabbit-rat, eastern bettong, western quoll and Kangaroo Island dunnart.

    According to Australia’s Department of Environment and Conservation, cats were first introduced to Australia from Europe in around 1804 and that cats first became feral around Sydney by 1820. Other invasive animal species that Australia considers to be significant threats include the red fox, the European rabbit and the cane toad.


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