Showing posts with label Australia. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Australia. Show all posts

Monday 19 June 2023

Australian journalists massively exaggerate the number of native animals killed by roaming domestic cats

By a factor of more than 10, Australian journalists and the authorities in Australia exaggerate the number of native animals killed by roaming domestic cats. I mean that they multiple by more than 10 the true number. 

Domestic cat predation in Australia is hugely exaggerated
Domestic cat predation in Australia is hugely exaggerated. Image in the public domain.

How can I make that bold statement? Well, perhaps one of the oldest if not the oldest study about the predation of animals by roaming domestic cats was published in 1987. The scientists found that each domestic cat in a village killed 14 animals in one year.

"A total of 1090 prey items (535 mammals, 297 birds and 258 unidentified animals) were taken, an average of about 14 per cat per year." - Predation by domestic cats in an English village. Link: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1469-7998.1987.tb02915.x
There was a factor of 14 between animal killed and domestic cats. There are 3.8 million domestic cats in Australia according to Wikipedia. But only 2.9 million are allowed outside according to the journalist I mention below. Multiply 2,900,000 x 14 and you get 40.6 million.

That means domestic cats that are allowed to go outside in Australia kill 40.6 million animals per year in Australia as a rough number.

Laura Chung writing for The Sunday Morning Herald opens her article (link) with the statement, "the Biodiversity Council, Invasive Species Council and Birdlife Australia found that roaming pet cats kill 546 million animals a year in Australia, 323 million of which are native animals".

This is more than 10 times than that which was revealed by the study I mention which is a very distinguished and recognised study.

And, I think we can use our personal experience on the subject. My cat who is a great hunter and who is allowed outside in a productive urban environment in terms of access to wildlife, perhaps kills around 10 animals per year maximum.

Laura Chung is stating that each pre-roaming domestic cat in Australia is killing 188 animals per year! Does that sound right to you? Can you believe it? I can't. It seems fanciful. It looks like fiction to me. It means that each domestic cat is killing an animal every 2 days. It's just unbelievable.

It is another example of how journalists in Australia and the authorities on that continent exaggerate the predation of domestic and feral cats on their native species in order to push forward and campaign for domestic cat confinement around the clock. This is the goal of the authorities in Australia.

The ones who don't know better have been indoctrinated by the news media and by the authorities to believe what Laura Chung states in her article. It's a gradual training of the mind of Australian citizens to believe what I think is a fiction. It is wrong.

I could go to any other study actually and come up with a similar result. In a counterargument, you might state that free-roaming domestic cats in Australia have a much greater opportunity to kill prey animals because there are more prey animals to kill. I don't believe it. If you want to state that you're going to have to produce evidence to back it up.

Monday 1 May 2023

Adelaide has become a city of a 200,000 private zoos

Adelaide, South Australia, have placed the ultimate restrictions of cat ownership. They lead the world in this regard.

Aussies see cats both domestic and feral as a pest when it comes to their relationship with native flora and fauna. Some local authorities are ahead of others in restricting cat ownership freedoms in order to protect native species and the administrators of Adelaide, Australia have probably gone as far as any jurisdiction can to restriction cat ownership. 

The long-suffering cats and their owners have to desex, microchip, register with the authorities and confine to their home all domestic cats.


We all understand the rules but are they genuinely enforceable? They probably don't have to be as 99% of Adelaide's residents will probably willingly comply because they've been indoctrinated with the notion that domestic cats are a massive threat to native species while ignoring the greater threat from humans (increased human population leading to more settlements and activity destroying habitat).

Adelaide's cats have to be registered once they are 3 months old. I think Adelaide is one of only a handful of councils anywhere in the world where they have compulsory registration. It may be the only council with this requirement. It is that rare.

The fees for registration are as follows:
CATEGORYFEE
Non-standard cat$100.00
Standard cat (desexed and microchipped)$30.00
Concession non-standard cat$50.00
Concession standard cat (desexed and microchipped)$15.00
A cat owner can take their cat out on a lead but few will as it is a tricky process. Violation of the local law leads to a fine of $187.50.

The big prob

The council have overlooked one enormous problem with their ordinance. None of these confined cats will enjoy a substitute that matches the fun of their freedoms when allowed outside. They'll become bored and fed up. They'll moan to their owners and meow to be let out. They'll torment their owners.


They'll eventually give up and settle in to a life or boredom and pleasure eating, leading to obesity. I understand the local laws and am sympathetic but they should be extended to mandate that cat owners provide an enriched confined environment such as an obligatory garden enclosure.

That would be asking far too much of course. So, they just bang-up (imprison) the cats. Adelaide has become a city of a 200,000 private zoos based on the rough estimate that there are that number of households with a pet cat.

Tuesday 3 January 2023

Large feral (?) 'Siamese' cat in Australia trapped and killed causing an outcry from some sections of the community

A large feral cat in Australia has been trapped and killed causing an outcry from some sections of the community. But was the cat feral or an inside/outside domestic cat? It appears so.

Large feral cat in Australia trapped and killed causing an outcry from some sections of the community. Image: Daily Mail Australia.

Comment on the above photograph: I find it very strange. The comments on the right-hand side appear to be have been made by the owner of this 'feral cat'. That means that the cat is not feral but an outdoor/indoor domestic cat. And the person has described the cat as "Siamese". The cat does not look like a Siamese cat judging by the camera traps image. The cat does not have pointing but appears to be an even colour throughout. So, I'm not sure what is going on. And if this is the case the authorities have killed someone's pet! Damages come to mind. The owner should sue them.

-------------------

I have followed the shenanigans and attitudes of the Australian authorities towards feral cats on the continent for years. It doesn't surprise me one jot that the authorities in charge of administrating Moreton Island off the coast of south-east Queensland decided to trap a so-called feral cat weighing 6.8 kg (15 pounds) and euthanise it (kill it). At least they didn't shoot it! That is the normal way for Australia's authorities to deal with feral cats.

Trapping and euthanising is way too humane for Australians when it comes to the 'vermin' and 'pest' that is the feral cat on that continent. They hate the animal but not everyone does because in this instance this feral cat who had earned the name 'Tangalooma puma' had a following and there was an outcry when the feline was trapped and killed.

A resident caught the cat in July having set up a humane trap. He learnt the technique in a workshop run by Brisbane City Council. The cat was then euthanised by Queensland Parks and Wildlife Services in accordance with the Biosecurity Act 2014.

In order to verify that this cat was a pest by preying on native species, they conducted an autopsy and discovered the remnants of a crow and a bandicoot in the stomach. This proved to them that the cat was decimating native while species which justified their actions in killing it.

Residents of Moreton Island are allowed to have pets but as it is given over to being a national park, they can't really let their cats go outside. I'm not sure if there is a local ordinance which forbids domestic cats going outside. The reports don't comment on that.

Of course, most of the residents are happy that the cat was killed but, as mentioned, not everyone is in agreement perhaps because it was a pet cat 😎. It makes me smile ironically. No one should agree to domestic cats being killed by the authorities for doing nothing wrong. It is wanton cat killing.

It's peculiar that they dubbed the cat a "puma". It seems that in the imagination of many they exaggerated its size to that of a mountain lion (a very large feline). This is not untypical of humans. And in doing that there was a gradual swell of hatred of the animal resulting in one resident deciding to trap it.

But 15 pounds in weight for a domestic or feral cat is not that big. It is slightly bigger than normal but not huge. And if a cat has become feral for whatever reason, they're going to have to hunt to survive. 

People need to look more carefully at why the cat became feral cat in the first place. The only reason is because of human carelessness. I always think it is very unfair if the existence of an animal due to human carelessness becomes such a nuisance that they have to kill it. The animal is an innocent victim of sloppy human behaviour. This is not a reason to kill the animal.

It is a reason to educate people to stop being sloppy on cat ownership. It's a reason to be kind to the animal because they are victims as well as the animals that they eat.

Monday 10 October 2022

Cougars in Australia? I think not.

In the news today there is the story of a "giant cat spotted in Western Australia". It was seen near the town of Lancelin, Western Australia. A security camera captured the animal in the distance. The camera appears to be on the property of Wayne and Helen Gardiner. They say that the cat was about 50-60 m away.

Is this a CCTV image of a mountain lion (puma) in Australia?
Is this a CCTV image of a mountain lion (puma) in Australia? No, is my response. Image: Mr and Mrs Gardiner and ABC News.

As usual, the image quality is very poor. In every single photograph of an unusual wild cat sighting the image quality is very poor which makes it impossible to be certain about what we are looking at (but we can almost always guess accurately). This is highly convenient!

It is said that people have occasionally reported sightings of mountain lions in Australia because some believe that the cat was brought over by the US during World War II as a mascot! Sounds plausible? I don't think so.

If and when they are seen it is normally in Western Australia. There has been at least one "compelling report" made annually.

As expected, nobody in Australia has ever captured a mountain lion on a camera in decent quality.

This is a news media story. If you look at the cat carefully and view it in relation to the shrubbery behind it and in front of it, we can see right away that it is not a mountain lion. 

The plants in front of the cat are probably about 15-20 inches high. That is a good way to scale the size of this cat which appears to be around 17 inches tall to the shoulder which would represent the size of a very large feral cat.

We know that there are very large feral cats in Australia. Sometimes they can be unusually large because they are feeding on an abundance of prey animals. Therefore, over a long period of time, the feral cats of Australia have evolved to be much larger than your normal feral cat in other parts of the world. It is said that they are twice the normal size.

The mountain lion is one of the world's biggest cats. They are clearly much smaller than the Bengal tiger for instance but still substantially larger than the cat we see in the image.

And if they genuinely were mountain lions in Western Australia you would think that somebody would have captured the animal on camera at least once since World War II! It is difficult to miss such a large cat and certainly one which is so definitively out of place in Australia.

There are no wild cat species living on the Australian continent. There never has been because the continent drifted away from the mainland before wild cat species on the mainland had a chance to travel to the area of the world that became Australia. In short, there was a water barrier and there still is between what I call the 'mainland' and the Australian continent which is an island.

Thursday 30 December 2021

Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) misleads their readers regarding the feral cats of Kangaroo Island

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation have a headline, today (Dec 30, 2021), on their website which I would strongly argue is very misleading and deliberately so. They state that hundreds of feral cats have been "removed" from Kangaroo Island in a bid to protect endangered native species.

It is the use of the word "removed" which I believe has been deliberately chosen to paint the authorities in a better light that should be the case. These feral cats have been removed, yes, but they have been removed because they've been killed. This is actually mass slaughter. The authorities are killing feral cats in their many thousands. It has been going on for a long time. However, it is the first time I've seen this kind of language used which distorts the true picture.

A deadly feral cat pointing device which delights the Australian authorities even though it kills feral cats in a decidedly inhumane way.
A deadly feral cat pointing device which delights the Australian authorities even though it kills feral cats in a decidedly inhumane way. The Australian Broadcasting Corporation call this device a trap when it simply is not.

Of course, as usual they refer to feral cats as 'pests'. It is rather strange because in some countries feral cats are not regarded as pests but as community cats. The Australian viewpoint is a very negative.

How do you decide if an animal is a pest or not? Well, I would argue that they have labelled feral cats as pests because they kill native species. To restate that in a different way: the behaviour of feral cats leads to the death of native species. And so they call them pests.

On that criterion, they would have to call themselves pests because humans in various ways kill more native species than feral cats. You won't find any information or hard facts on it. It is an estimate from me. But that is not a bad thing because all the numbers about the killing of native species by feral cats in Australia are estimates anyway.

There is one particular method of killing feral cats which they delight in. In another example of a distortion of the truth and heavily biased reporting, they describe the Felixer as a "trap". It is not a trap. It is a device which chucks 1080 poison onto passing feral cats. They groom themselves and ingest the poison and die a painful death. 

RELATED: Picture of feral cat Doomsday Machine.

There is no way on God's earth that you can call this device a trap. Nothing is trapped. It just kills feral and stray cats. It also kills domestic cats and other animals but it is designed to feral cats only. How effective is it?

They persist in calling this feral cat poison a trap and that it is five times more effective than a standard cage trap. Standard cage traps do not kill the cats. Cage traps are not designed to kill cats but to trap them after which they can be sterilised and returned under a TNR program or in the worst case scenario they can be euthanised in an humane way.

The Felixer simply poisons animals. There is no attempt to kill the cats humanely under this scheme. Whether it is humane or not is entirely irrelevant to these people.

Tuesday 30 November 2021

Feral cat eats a small Australian native mammal and is poisoned by a PPI

The Aussies have created another novel way of killing feral cats. They spend many thousands of hours dreaming up new ways and this is the latest. They inject into a native small mammal such as a bilby, a rice-sized implant. They call them population protecting implants or PPIs. They are placed under the skin of the animal. These small mammals are dinner-sized creatures for the feral cats of the Australian continent.

Note: this is me reporting and commenting on the news. Journos call them op-eds.

Bilby - Credit UniSA
Bilby - Credit: UniSA.

When inside the prey animal nothing happens. The pellet is covered by a protective coating. It contains a toxin derived from a natural poison in native plants. PPIs are harmless to tolerant native mammals they say.

However, once the mammal is eaten by a feral cat they become a deadly toxin as the implant is activated in the predator's stomach. They don't tell me how that transformation from a passive object under the skin becomes a deadly poison in a cat's stomach. I guess it must be the stomach acid of the feral cat which breaks down the coating.

Neither am I told whether the poisoned cat dies an agonising death or quietly. I'll presume it is the former but who cares πŸ˜•.

Thought: when my cat eats a mouse he leaves the gall bladder as it contains bile. Will feral cats learn to leave behind the PPI when they eat the bilby? They might. If so the project would be an expensive washout.

The technology has been developed by the University of South Australia. The objective: to curb feral cat predatory behaviour. It is the small ground dwelling mammals who are most at threat and it seems to me which most concern Australia's conservationists. It seems that the ulterior or higher objective is to teach feral cats that these small mammals are poisonous and therefore to be avoided.

Feral cat Australia
Feral cat Australia. Photo: Pixabay.

Two other native species in this bracket are the bettong and quoll. They've been forced to think about alternative methods of controlling feral cats because current schemes to remove them from the landscape have had limited success. This is despite throwing frozen sausages containing 1080 poison from helicopters. This particular poison causes a painful death. That doesn't concern the scientists of Australia.

The University has collaborated with researchers from local ecology groups, Ecological Horizons and Peacock Biosciences and the University of Adelaide.

At present 30 bilbies have been implanted with PPIs at the Arid Recovery. This is a 123 km² wildlife reserve in the north of South Australia. This is a trial. The results will hopefully prove the effectiveness of this technology.

Comment: it seems to me that they have to trap these small mammals to implant the PPI. That is going to take a lot of effort and money. Will the reward i.e. the killing of a single feral cat each time be commensurate with the financial and manpower cost? My prediction is that this is cost ineffective and it is a project that will fizzle out. Unless feral cats, as mentioned, learn that these mammals are poisonous and avoid them. That would be a major success but it will take a long time.

Tuesday 16 November 2021

Greater Bendigo, Australia order cats to be "contained to the property 24/7"

NEWS AND COMMENT: The city administrators i.e. councillors of the City of Greater Bendigo, Australia have voted that domestic cats "must be contained to the property 24/7". One councillor, Julie Sloan, said that it is important to make a distinction between "restrict cats to indoors 24/7" and "contain to the property 24/7". That's a fine distinction which I had to think about for a while to work out the difference. The difference must be this: they have ordered that domestic cats should be kept within the bounds of the property which means inside the home and/or the front and back yards. 

Greater Bendigo, Australia order cats to be "contained to the property 24/7"
Greater Bendigo, Australia order cats to be "contained to the property 24/7". Image: MikeB

The cats don't have to be confined to the indoors i.e. inside the home. They can wander into the back garden front garden but clearly if they do those areas must be fenced in a way which prevents domestic cats escaping to the outside. That is my interpretation.

It's a progression for this city from an earlier curfew which required cats to be kept inside the owner's property between sunset and sunrise. So the screws are gradually being turned tighter on cat owners in terms of restrictions. This is one of the few total curfews that I know about in the world of domestic cat ownership. It's about as restrictive as you can get. Although, there have been lots of discussions about confining cats to the boundaries of the owner's property 24/7 in many jurisdictions on the planet, primarily in America and Australia.

These countries lead the world in terms of legislation to control cat ownership. What is the purpose of the curfew? The usual reasons: to prevent predation on wildlife and, in their words, "less fighting and transfer of diseases and breeding between cats and would reduce nuisance issues between neighbours".

The councillors surveyed the residents of the area. The feedback was 80% in favour of confining domestic cats to their homes. Under the legislation, cat owners have to pay up to AU$120 to reclaim their cat if it is held between five and eight days by the local authority.

The residents will be given time to get themselves organised to comply with the new restrictions. It'll take a bit of work. The cat confinement fence manufacturers will do a roaring trade πŸ˜….

Sunday 22 August 2021

Dogs 'euthanized' by shooting in a New South Wales pound

NEWS AND COMMENT: It appears to me that shooting dogs in publicly funded pounds in New South Wales is quietly accepted. They are shot as a form of euthanasia. The news is shocking and yet unsurprising because Australians do like to shoot 'things' particularly feral cats and kangaroos!

Dogs in a pound
Dogs in a pound. Images: PA.


On this occasion several dogs were impounded within a publicly funded facility but they were due to be transferred to a rescue shelter but before that happened, they were shot by officials of Bourke Shire Council. The excuse given is that they didn't want to expose volunteers who are coming to pick up the dogs to the Covid-19 virus.

The incident is being investigated because it may be a criminal act. It should be a criminal act because you can't euthanised a dog with a bullet in my honest opinion and therefore it's animal cruelty and it falls under the animal cruelty laws of that state. But no doubt nothing will happen.

Volunteers who were asked to pick up the dogs are obviously distressed. The Minister for Local Government, Shelley Hancock, has not commented. Lisa Ryan an animal liberation campaigner has asked for an urgent investigation. She was deeply distressed and appalled by the incident. She rejects the justification for the shooting.

Hancock claimed that she wasn't aware of the euthanasia of pound animals by shooting. She said that if was a practice she'd been concerned. 

Apparently, councils are not required to reveal how they euthanise animals in their care. It also encourages me to believe that shooting dogs and cats in pounds happens. We don't know how often. I hope rarely but I have a feeling that it is not that rare.

Abigail Boyd, a Greens MP and animal welfare spokeswoman said that the government had still not taken any action despite the issue being raised in Parliament. She said: "Council pounds are paid for by local communities, and it is clear that shooting lost and unclaimed dogs housed in these publicly-funded facilities falls far short of community expectations."

That too implies that shooting dogs in pounds is not uncommon. A spokesperson for the office of local government said that they'd issued new guidance during the pandemic about keeping staff and volunteers safe through altered procedures while ensuring that their services continued. Perhaps it is this directive which is being utilised to justify the shooting of these dogs. If so, it's a feeble reason. It is a cruel act. I hope someone pays for it.

But the fact that the matter is that there seems to be a disconnect among a large segment of Australian society between their desire to eradicate feral cats by shooting or in any other way (poisoning) and the morality of that act. And I think that when you engage in mass slaughter of any animal as is the case with feral cats in Australia, you blunt your sensitivity towards animal sentience and this leads to the sort of event described in this article.

Source: Unilad.co.uk.

Saturday 7 August 2021

4 scientists deserve praise for saying the truth about feral cat predation in Australia

This band of four scientists deserve praise for pushing back against the doctrine as disseminated by the Australian local governments and the federal government, which is that feral cats on the continent are decimating native species and killing wildlife in the billions. These four scientists have written an article for the website The Conversation which I think puts the record straight. I've been writing about this for years and it almost seems that they have got some ideas for me but I am being big headed. These are the four I'd like to praise.
  • Arian Wallach, Lecturer, Centre for Compassionate Conservation, University of Technology Sydney;
  • William S. Lynn, Research Scientist, Clark University;
  • Francisco J. Santiago-Ávila, Postdoctoral Researcher, University of Wisconsin-Madison and;
  • Joann Lindenmayer, DVM, MPH is an associate professor in the Department of Public Health and Community Medicine at Tufts University
Their article is titled: Don't blame cats for destroying wildlife-shaky logic is leading to moral panic. The moral panic aspect of the title is interesting. It implies that shooting, trapping and poisoning feral cats in Australia is morally unjustifiable. It certainly is. And they mention, as I have, that Australia has declared war on cats, particularly the feral cat. 

Feral cat shooter of Australia
Mad bad and sick as far as I am concerned. Man carries tabby feral cat back to where? He's just shot it at night. He's having great fun saving Australia from native species Armageddon at the hands of feral cats. He is a member of the Sporting Shooters’ Association of Australia with a cat he shot. Photo: Adam Ferguson for The New York Times


This has been going on for donkeys' years. It is almost as if the governments of the various states of Australia are minded to indoctrinate their citizens into believing that the feral cat is their enemy. I had the pleasure of interviewing an Australian on the topic of feral cats and she almost recited like a mantra what she's been taught by these governments. Although I respect her point of view.

But the experts that I mention on this page say that they have a shaky case against cats. They said the claim that feral cats kill billions of animals causing a catastrophe in conservation does not stand up to scrutiny. Feral cats fit into the ecology of the Australian continent and it is complex. For example, when humans denude places of its vegetation small animals are more at risk of predation by cats because they can't hide. That is a single example.

And they say the small animals are vulnerable when people kill apex predators such as the feral cat. There is a knock-on effect. In Australia dingoes hunt feral cats which relieves pressure on native small animals, they say. If you got rid of the cats would the dingoes hunt small animals? And cats can contribute to the conservation of endangered birds by killing rats and mice. Rats are very efficient predators themselves and they prey on birds.

They say that cats play different roles in different environments and you can't assume that because feral cats are a problem in one place that they are a problem in all places on the Australian continent.

And you can't extrapolate from one small study about feral cat predation on native species and say that that happens across the entire country. In the words of the experts that I want to praise, they say that "many scientists take specific, local studies and over-generalise those findings to the world at large."

They state that there should be a far more rigorous approach to the study of feral and domestic cats and such studies should be "mindful of the importance of ecological context and avoid the pitfalls of faulty reasoning".

These guys deserve praise because they're pushing back against the conventional mantra of these governments which, as mentioned, is indoctrinating the citizens. It is time that this stops and a far more nuanced approach is taken which is also ethical. Almost everything that these governments are doing in relationship to feral cats are unethical and cruel. Their slogan is to kill them anyway possible. Crude and stupid, I'd say.

Monday 2 August 2021

Feral cats are the costliest invasive species of Australia (but they forgot about people)

The people of Australia are not an invasive species because the aboriginals were there 50,000 years ago. But the feral cat is an invasive species and a study has decided that they are the costliest of the hundreds of individual species studied. They estimated that feral cats account for over AU$10 billion in damages and management expenses. Rabbits, pigs and rodents follow closely.

Feral cats are the costliest invasive species of Australia (but they forgot about people)
Australian feral cat. The enemy to millions of Australians. Image in the public domain.

In all, invasive species including plants have cost Australia at least AU$390 billion over the past 60 years. The researchers shone a spotlight on plants and animals. I would suggest that they also turn the spotlight around and point it at themselves. To the best of my knowledge, no study has looked at the amount of damage that humans do to the Australian economy in terms of damage and management expenses incurred.

There is no doubt in my mind, however, that the cost of humans to the economy is far greater than all other invasive species. The difference, of course, is that people also create the economy; they make the money. However, if you want to cut back on damage and the associated costs, I think it would be useful to take a spotlight to human activity as well. At least put them all together; humans and animals and plants. It would allow politicians to more accurately see where improvements can be made.

There is a call to invest more money in managing invasive species in Australia. Included in the damage done by non-native species, is the destruction of native animals, marsupials and mammals. Australia has a lot of very cute, small marsupials of which they are very proud. Understandably they don't like feral cats and foxes preying on them and eating them. Some are endangered.

From my standpoint, I see a huge distortion in the way that the Australian authorities are looking at these issues. Recently there were massive floods and wildfires in Australia. It is said that these were caused by global warming. Australia contributes to global warming by mining coal and selling it internationally. That's the kind of human activity I'm referring to and which should be put under the spotlight. The damage caused by these fires and floods I would argue are far greater than that caused by the invasive species.

Associated:
The Barrier Reef is being destroyed by global warming. An iconic landmark of which Australia are rightly proud but they are contributing to its destruction.

And going forwards, it will get worse. And we have to project forwards. I think it is pretty clear that global warming is going to kill more Australian native species in the future than those killed by invasive species in the past. And global warming is a human behaviour issue. You cannot cut out of the equation human behaviour as studies always do.

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.

Australians use thermal imaging cameras and rifles to conserve bilby and kowari populations

It is reported that bilby and kowari populations in Queensland's outback are increasing to the delight of conservationists thanks to a more efficient feral cat control programme which includes using thermal imaging cameras and, I presume, rifles to kill them. Both these animals are marsupials and they've spotted them in greater numbers this year. The bilby is endangered. The Department of Environment and Science recorded 471 bilbies at Astrebla Downs National Park.

A bilby in Currawinya National Park makes its way to its burrow
A bilby in Currawinya National Park makes its way to its burrow. Photo: Cassandra Arkinstall

They also spotted a record 14 kowaris. This is a small carnivorous desert marsupial regarded as vulnerable in terms of conservation in Queensland.

They put the increasing population numbers down to better control of feral cats. The Department said that they have removed more than 3,000 feral cats from the park since 2013. As mentioned in the title, they use thermal imaging cameras rather than spotlights to pick out the cats. 

This has made killing them far more efficient. The news report does not tell us how they kill the cats but it has to be by shooting. If they're using thermal imaging cameras to spot them then the next step is to shoot them. Of course, it doesn't matter how they kill them and one of the most common ways is poisoning. The next most efficient method of shooting. It is raw slaughter. The issue of causing pain and suffering is irrelevant.

Apparently, the cats got used to spotlights. They learned to avoid them as they were associated with death, but thermal imaging has outfoxed them. A senior ranger, Barry Nolan, said: "Once the earth loses its heat that it got from the sun during the day, anything that provides body heat glows quite well under thermal technology, even if it's behind vegetation and stuff."

The video shows the bilby:

Wednesday 14 July 2021

The only place on the planet were domestic cats have to stay in the home?

You may have noticed, there is one place (?) on this planet where domestic cats will have to stay in the home under the law which commences in October 1, 2021. That place is Knox in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne. I know of no other place in the world where the local administrators have decided to bite the bullet and do something very big which is a 24/7 curfew on domestic cats under the law which forces cat owners to keep their cats either in their home or the backyard (but see below).

Knox council wants their citizens to build these. This catio in Abu Dhabi. Photo: Evelyn Lau - The National.

There is a website for Knox which succinctly tells us, away from the glare of social media, about the cat curfew. It states that cat owners will be required to keep their cats on their premises at all times from 1 October 2021. The curfew will be in place to protect local wildlife and cats and prevent a nuisance to neighbours. The curfew means that cats must be confined to the house, shed, garage, yard, or enclosure or something similar. Can your cat still go outside? Cats can go outside but it has to be on the property so it is not going outside in the conventional sense, meaning into public places.

The city administrators expect cat owners to build enclosures and cat proof fencing around their properties. It is something I've been promoting for a long time actually, which is cat enclosures. The catio is a small version of a cat enclosure. It's a great compromise between allowing your cat the opportunity to express natural behaviours while protecting the cat and wildlife. I believe that it is a compromise which will gradually be expanded into many metropolitan areas in various countries.

SOME PAGES ON CATIO CAT ENCLOSURES

It just took a very courageous decision by these administrators to do it now. Of course, there's been a big backlash by resident cat owners within the jurisdiction. Social media describes it as "outrage". However, the council run a survey of 720 residents, 50% of which are cat owners. A large 86% supported some kind of curfew with apparently the majority referring a 24-hour curfew. This indicates that there is consent. I have interviewed an Australian lady and she is for destroying feral cats - the same objective.

Set against this apparent consent, there is an online petition requesting that the council reviews their decision. Detractors say that the science does not support a curfew and that the cats will be stressed by being confined.

I've just discovered that the Yarra Ranges Council introduced a 24/7 cat curfew earlier. So. the Knox Council curfew is the second in Australia and I would argue that makes them the second in the world because no other country has done this. It's been discussed in America but no action has been taken. Americans love their freedoms under the constitution. They are very vocal about it understandably.

Australia's citizens are perhaps more compliant. Also, Australia's administrators are more concerned about wildlife predation by domestic and feral cats than in America. The balance has shifted between allowing cats the freedom to roam, which they've enjoyed for centuries, towards protection of wildlife. That is the main reason why this curfew is in place. They say that it also protects the cats but 90% of this is to do with stopping domestic cat preying on wildlife.

There is enormous pressure on wildlife in Australia mainly because of human behaviour which destroys habitat and causes climate change. People can't change their behaviour so they change the behaviour of cats instead. It's much easier and it looks like politicians are doing something positive. A much greater positive impact on the protection of wildlife would take place if people changed their ways.

Thursday 1 July 2021

Residents of Knox City, Melbourne ordered to keep cats inside 24/7

KNOX CITY, MELBOURNE - NEWS AND COMMENT: This might be a world first but if not, it is one of the very few city councils to order that their citizens keep their domestic cat companions inside the home 24/7. And it seems that the order to do this will go on indefinitely unless somebody changes the ordinance or local law. The mayor of the city council disagrees with it as you can see in the Facebook post below.

Knox City
Knox City. Pic in public domain.

The reason is to protect wildlife and that is always the reason in Australia for confining cats. The authorities across the continent, to varying degrees, have become somewhat obsessed with protecting native species and I can understand that because humankind is destroying native species with global warming and other human activities. They have to do something about it and as they can't change themselves, they force change upon the cat.

Note: the embedded FB post below may stop working one day. If so, I am sorry.

Dear Residents, I’d like to thank you for taking the time to write to me and express your views in relation to the new...

Posted by Mayor Lisa Cooper - Knox City Council on Wednesday, June 30, 2021

I have read that the owl kills more wildlife than the cat! I'm not sure that that is true but it's a thought. The cat is cast as the culprit in the decimation of native wild species as the Australian authorities see it. But the feral cat does more damage than the domestic cat and you can't confine feral cats but you can shoot them, poison them and kill them in any way you want, which is exactly what happens in Australia according to the news media.

The 24/7 cat confinement in Knox City which is a suburb of Melbourne begins on October 1, 2021. It will no doubt result in some cat owners building enclosures in their backyards for their cats as a substitute which I think is a good idea. It is perhaps the beginning of the end of allowing cats to roam freely. There will probably come a time, in Australia initially, but in other countries eventually when the concept of 24/7 cat confinement becomes a norm in society.

The council rules state that cats can still go outside as long as they remain on the property of their owner. From October 1 there will be a transition period during which time owners will receive a warning if their cat is found in someone else's property. After the transition period cat owners will be fined AU$91 if their cat is found away from the property. Repeated breaches of the rule will result in a fine of more than AU$500.

The Mayor of Knox City would have preferred a compromise solution namely a 7 PM to 7 AM overnight cat curfew but it did not get the council vote. The mayor is disappointed and it is her who said that on her understanding owls are the biggest predators of wildlife and yet domestic cats are continually blamed.

Her argument is that as cats do most of their hunting at night a night-time curfew would do the job to protect animals. Although many non-cat owning residents of the suburb are happy with the 24/7 confinement order.

Monday 21 June 2021

Massive increase in pet thefts in Australia during Covid

As is the case in other countries, there has been a massive increase in pet thefts during Covid in Australia. This is confirmed by Anne-Marie in Sydney Australia who is a pet detective specialising in cats, dogs, rabbits, ferrets, goats, birds, pigs and horses! I don't think she specialises that all!

Attempted theft of a cat on a front porch caught by CCTV
Attempted theft of a cat on a front porch caught by CCTV. I believe this is in the US and the picture is here for illustrative purposes only. Image: CCTV in public domain.

She said that she has always preferred animals to people. A good start if you want to be a committed pet detective. I suppose the reason for the dramatic increase in pet thefts in Australia is the obvious one which is increased demand. When more people want to adopt a cat or dog, let's say, demand goes up and if supply is short it leads to criminality. People who have lost work during Covid saw an opportunity to make money Anne-Marie said. So, these are casual pet thieves who I'd would describe as opportunistic.

Annie-Marie pet detective
Annie-Marie pet detective. Photo: Bill Plummer of The Observer.

And demand for pets, particularly dogs, increased dramatically too because of Covid. It's those long lockdowns that did it. The idle mind and the need for company.

But in the UK, it appears that pet thieves are predominantly members of an organised gang. And if people have lost work because of Covid they might find it harder to purchase a dog and therefore they steal an animal. Or they turn to the black market and purchase a stolen dog. And Anne-Marie says that in Australia, for the first time, shelters are empty and pets have become a commodity.

She is receiving or was receiving 50 enquiries a week. She describes various types of pet theft including planned stealing which normally involves a burglary or trespassing on someone's property. And sometimes a person known to the cat or dog owner steals the animal. Maintenance contractors working in the area or even on the home in question might thieve a pet.

You can see the scenario: you're having your house done up and you go out for a while leaving your dog at home. The contractors finish their work on their last day and take the dog. That would seem to be how it might unfold sometimes. And extraordinarily, sometimes pet-sitters steal the animal they are looking after. It'd be the last pet-sitting job they do though.

Anne-Marie says that there is no one method to deal with pet theft. You have to bring together all the elements such as the breed of the animal if they are purebred, the age, the circumstances and the owner's profile. They also gather information about micro-chipping and whether the animal is collared. The character of the pet is also a factor as it allows Anne-Marie to build up a picture.

She sometimes uses drones which are able to pick up a heat signature. That seems like a very clever idea to me and the use of drones has exploded in various contexts. Part of the role of a pet detective is to manage the emotions of cat and dog owners who are probably invariably utterly distraught. Sometimes they find the animal but they've died. Above all, from the owner's perspective, closure is the key. They want to know what happened. They can then move on.

Source: The Guardian via MSN.

Wednesday 16 June 2021

Australia using artificial intelligence to locate feral cats

DUDLEY PENINSULA, KANGAROO ISLAND, SOUTH AUSTRALIA: Before Australians kill their feral cats, they have to find them. Common-sense. They say there are millions of them but they have difficulty in finding them. A bevy of men have to skim through SD camera cards to check the images from camera traps. This takes time.

SPONSOR A CAMERA: The KI Landscape Board's Feral Cat Eradication team is checking cameras deployed out in the field for sightings of feral cats. Photo supplied

They have come up with a method which speeds things up, shaving off 40 days annually from the process. They are using 4G-connected camera traps which send images to an image recognition software business called 'eVorta' which has a near non-existent website. It tells me nothing about their AI software. 

But it allows the eradicators to be informed in real time of the presence of feral cats in the area. The team have installed 200 of the cameras across various sites on the Dudley Peninsula.

Locals have been asked to help funding with donations. I interviewed an Australian woman on the issue of feral cats (click here to hear her) and my impression is that the residents agree with the eradication programs. I just think they are bloody cruel because there is no attempt to use humane methods. It is 'kill at all costs' and sod the pain.

The objective is to get rid of feral cats from all of Kangaroo Island ultimately. They have received government funding of $4m under the Marshall Liberal Government's Landscape Priorities Fund to remove the cats and manage the kangaroos plus for weed control.

Monday 14 June 2021

Queensland tabby cat eats 61 hair ties!

A Queensland ginger tabby-and-white cheeky cat whose name is Riker was taken into surgery after they discovered a large lump in his stomach. He had eaten, over a period of time, 61 hair ties which had balled together to create a 7 cm lump. Riker had been taken to the West Toowoomba Vet Surgery in house down, Queensland for a checkup and Michael Burke, the veterinarian, felt a hard lump in his abdomen.

Tabby cat eats 61 hair ties and is not sick
Tabby cat eats 61 hair ties and is not sick. He ate them over time though. Credit: see image.

He rushed Riker into surgery fearing it could be a serious illness but discovered this rather odd ball of hair ties. It is a particularly remarkable case of what cat lovers call Pica Syndrome. This is the eating of non-nutritious objects. Riker has a history of it. A couple of years ago he ate a corncob and had to have that surgically removed as well.

It seems that veterinarians have to remove foreign objects from cats and dogs fairly frequently. Dr. Burke has removed large bones, nectar seeds, underwear and the occasional sock from the stomachs of both cats and dogs.

It makes sense to keep these objects out of reach if your cat is predisposed to eating them! And annual checkups can be useful as in this instance because they were able to spot this huge foreign object. Riker was never sick. He never vomited which is quite remarkable considering the size of the foreign object. He recovered very well.

You probably know about Pica Syndrome. As mentioned, it's the obsessive compulsion to consume non-edible "foods". It is not that uncommon. Remarkably, veterinarians are not sure as yet why cats like to eat non-foods. There may be several causes such as early weaning, dietary deficiencies, inherited predispositions due to their genetics, boredom, stress or as one symptom of a compulsive disorder. It is normally seen first at about three months of age and some cats grow out of it by around two years of age.

How do you treat Pica Syndrome? I think that it is difficult to deal with but clearly keeping an eye on your cat and removing objects that he or she might eat would be a good starting point. Toxic plants can also be removed from the home. You can play with your cat a lot more which I'm sure would help. Stress is often caused by a lack of stimulation so adding fresh stimulation to your cat's life would help which includes enriching the environment. For example, you might train your cat to walk on a lead and take him into the backyard if he is a full-time indoor cat or even further afield. That would be safe stimulation.

Another thing that you might do is to give your cat something to chew on which she can't swallow! That may help. And lastly you might make the sort of objects which she chews on unappealing although not sure how you do that! I'm sorry to be a bit flippant but this is quite a difficult problem to deal with. If, for example, a cat is doing it because of early weaning this kind of behaviour is quite deeply ingrained as all behavioural traits adopted at an early age i.e. in the first weeks of life, are.

Friday 11 June 2021

An alternative to killing feral cats in order to protect wallabies

Historically, Australian authorities kill feral cats to protect native species which includes wallabies. It's understandable but it is a negative solution particularly when the killing is carried out with a complete disregard for the pain inflicted. 

The Daily Science website reports an alternative method which I would like to disseminate in the interests of the welfare of feral cats. They say that a program called "head start" doubled the population of the critically endangered bridled nail tail wallabies in the Avocat Nature Refuge in Queensland. What they mean by this is that they protect the young Wallabies against predation by feral cats until they are adult enough to be able to escape and survive.

Mad bad and sick as far as I am concerned. Man carries tabby feral cat back to where? He's just shot it at night. He's having great fun saving Australia from native species Armageddon at the hands of feral cats. He is a member of the Sporting Shooters’ Association of Australia with a cat he shot. Photo: Adam Ferguson for The New York Times
Mad bad and sick as far as I am concerned. Man carries tabby feral cat back to where? He's just shot it at night. He's having great fun saving Australia from native species Armageddon at the hands of feral cats. He is a member of the Sporting Shooters’ Association of Australia with a cat he shot. Photo: Adam Ferguson for The New York Times

Specifically, the researchers placed individual wallabies weighing less than 3 kg together with their nursing mothers in a 9.2-hectare enclosure which was free of predators except for birds of prey and some other predators, which are unspecified. They allowed them to live there over a three-year period beginning in 2015.

The mothers raised 56 wallabies in the enclosure and they found that the head start program more than doubled the population of wallabies over three years. There are 16 core members which increased to 47 of which 21 were inside the head start enclosure and 26 were outside. The survival rate of young wallabies increased, in that 15/20 juveniles (75%) survived past the age of weaning in the enclosure compared to only 3/12 (25%) in the wild.

Wallaby
Wallaby. Photo: Science Direct.

The researchers have estimated that the Avocet wallabies will become extinct within two years but for the head start program. They said that until they have a way to eliminate feral cats in the wild the head start program is a good idea.

I've written a lot about Australia and suggested many other ways of controlling the feral cat population size other than brutal killing in any way possible. If you are interested you can read some of these articles by clicking on this link.

Sunday 30 May 2021

Australian Capital Territory (ACT) residents will have to confine their cats to their homes

The ACT government has plans to confine domestic cat to their homes from July 1, 2022 regardless of the suburban where they live. It's called the ACT Cat Plan 2021-2031. It's a policy which has been developed in consultation with others including environmental groups and cat owners which is designed to "help cats live longer and healthier lives while better protecting native wildlife."

ACT Legislative Assembly
ACT Legislative Assembly. Photo in public domain.


There are already cat containment regulations with respect to 'containment suburbs' in Canberra. Outside of "declared suburbs, cat containment will only apply to new cats, because we understand that existing cats and their owners may not be prepared or used to containment", said ACT Minister for Transport and Silly Services Chris Steel.

The new rules will also allow owners in cat containment suburbs to take their cat for a walk on a lead. This is currently prohibited. At the moment there are 17 cat containment suburbs in the ACT.

The maximum penalty for breaching the new local laws will be AU$1600. Steel said that the ACT is a leader in introducing cat containment. This is certainly correct. I do not know of any other country where these concepts are in place and being expanded. It is certainly part of Australia's desire to protect native species. It comes with a package of procedures including the destruction of feral cats designed to protect, primarily, small Australian native ground dwelling mammals but birds and reptiles too.

There are other plans to encourage responsible cat ownership. They say that there are seven other strategies to be rolled out over the next 10 years, one of which is a compulsory requirement for new cat owners to register their cats in the way that dog owners do currently. And from July 1, 2022 new cat owners will have to pay a fee when they register their cat for the first time. Registration will need to be updated annually. Existing cat owners will also have to register but there will be no fee.

The authorities say that they estimate free roaming cats kill 61,000 native birds, 2000 native mammals and 30,000 native reptiles together with 6000 native frogs annually, on my understanding.

They believe that domestic cats confined to the home can still live happy and contented lives. This is true but there are more demands upon cat owners to ensure that their cats are stimulated for obvious reasons. Confined domestic cats live in an artificial world and there has to be some substitutes to nature within that world to which domestic cats are attuned. They need the sights, sounds stimulation of nature.

I do not believe that the average cat owner will be able to satisfactorily substitute what their cats will be missing once they are confined to the home.

The Conservation Council ACT Region welcomed the plan but said that they could go further and also that they could introduce it sooner. They say that it is wrong to allow one more year of newly-acquired cat be free to roam and hunt.

Australian citizens can have their say online. If you are interested you can read about the government's vision and the ACT Plan 2021-31 by clicking on this link.

Wednesday 26 May 2021

Wallabies are cat snacks in New South Wales, Australia

Young wallabies have been described as "cat snacks" by scientists in New South Wales. This is because it's what they are to feral cats in that region of Australia. Too many of them are being eaten by feral cats and scientists have come up with what they refer to as "headstarting". It's a strategy which means moving the young wallabies to a fenced off area devoid of cats, where they can develop to become large enough to be able to fend off the advances of feral cats. Scientists from the University of New South Wales conducted a trial and declared it an unqualified success.

Wallabies are cat snacks in New South Wales, Australia
 Wallabies are cat snacks in New South Wales, Australia. Photo: iStock.



"These wallabies are really affected by predators only when they are very small - they're easy snack-sized for a feral cat," said Alexandra Ross from the university.

Bridled nailtail wallabies are vulnerable with only an estimated 500 individuals in the wild in three areas of the east coast of Australia. They apparently relocated the wallabies to the Avocet Nature Refuge, which is south of Emerald in central Queensland.

This happened between 2015-2018 and 89% of them survived to become large enough to be put back into the wild resulting in a more than doubling of the overall population size over that period.

The said that there was minimal disruption to their lives as the enclosure contained their natural habitat. The only difference was that they were protected from predation by feral cats. It is a nine-hector enclosure.

It was important to the researchers to make sure that the wallabies understand that they can still be preyed upon by natural predators other than feral cats such as eagles and pythons. They feel that the small enclosure helps them to learn the dangers of predation.

The process of 'headstarting' is only useful for animals that provide conservationists with a window in their early life when they are vulnerable to predation and which allows the researchers to remove them from the environment in which they are vulnerable.

The process is cheaper as well. Ross estimates that it is up to 90% cheaper than traditional fencing methods because of the smaller size of the enclosure required. Bridled nailtail wallabies were thought to be extinct until 1973 when they were rediscovered by a fencing contractor who stumbled across a colony in Queensland.

My thanks to Brisbane Times of the story. The research is published in Current Biology.

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