Tuesday 27 July 2021

Using padded-jaw traps to capture feral cats and then shoot them

One way that Australia's conservationists are controlling feral cats is to trap them in padded-jaw traps. They call this 'live trapping' followed by euthanasia but the euthanasia is a bullet to the brain. If the shot is accurate. Obviously, a padded trap is going to cause much less injury than the standard jaw traps which are excruciating. 

But they admit that these leghold traps cause pain and distress. They can cause injuries and of course padded-jaw traps will trap animals other than feral cats. And therefore, the experts have advice on how to use them to minimise distress and pain (pestsmart.org.au).

Feral cat caught in a padded jaw trap ready to be shot
Feral cat caught in a padded jaw trap ready to be shot. Photo: Chris Rumpf.

It's quite instructive. For example, once they are trapped feral cats should be killed as quickly as possible. This means inspecting the trapped daily. This prevents the animal dying from exposure or thirst and starvation. The traps can be set in places where there is some shade. Trapping should be carried out in reasonable weather conditions to avoid feral cats being trapped under harsh conditions. 

Trapping should be carried out when females are lactating, I guess to avoid trapping females with dependent kittens. If a female with kittens is trapped, the conservationist should find the dependent kittens and kill them quickly and humanely. That's interesting because there is no attempt in that advise to find homes for the kittens. Feral kittens can be socialised quite easily.

Padded-jaw traps can capture a whole range of non-target animals such as wombats, possums, bilbies, rabbits, kangaroos, ravens and magpies et cetera. Wallabies apparently experience serious injuries while trapped birds and rabbits can be preyed upon by foxes and feral cat. Ironic.

If a non-target animal is trapped and severely injured or suffering from thermal stress they should receive "appropriate attention". They recommend taking the animal to a veterinarian or registered wildlife carer for treatment. If they can't be treated, they should be euthanised. I bet the last option is favoured.

If a domestic cat is caught in a trap, they should be taken to the nearest animal shelter, pound or veterinarian to be examined for their injuries, scanned for a microchip and the owner contacted. Comment: I wonder how they compensate the owner if the cat is injured? Or killed? Do they compensate cat owners under these circumstances? They should do. Technically it would be a crime. It would be the crime of criminal damage but no doubt there are exemptions to the usual criminal law when conservationists kill domestic cats in the furtherance of conservation of native species in Australia.

Padded jaw traps should have no teeth. They recommend no smaller than a .17 calibre rimfire with hollow/soft point ammunition for euthanasia. They are advised also that they can use 12-gauge shotguns with shot size of BB or AAA. The bloody world of conservation in Australia. The feral cat is their arch-enemy.

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