PR Newswire - On November 7th, Alley Cat Rescue sent a letter to Greg Hunt, Australia's Minister for the Environment, denouncing his nationwide plan to eradicate feral cats. In the letter, Alley Cat Rescue President Louise Holton calls Hunt's plan to use toxic bait and release a deadly virus intended to kill millions of the country's feral cats as "unfeasible, cruel and inhumane."
Holton shares Hunt's concern for the decline in bird populations, as the world enters its sixth mass extinction, but says killing cats is irresponsible and does nothing to address the very real concerns facing all birds and wildlife: human activity. According to the 2013 State of the World's Birds report, the primary cause of declining bird populations is due to habitat loss, agricultural expansion, climate change, and pollution. Australia ranks in the top 10 countries for land clearing and it is one of the top countries most at risk from climate change.
Holton says, "Attempting to eradicate cats is a futile endeavor and will cause catastrophic consequences on local ecosystems," citing the infamous eradication of cats from Macquarie Island that resulted in an explosion of rat and rabbit populations which decimated ground-nesting birds and destroyed the island's vegetation. "It took over 15 years and cost around $2.5 million to eradicate the 2,500 cats on Macquarie Island and another 7 years and $20 million to eradicate the rats and rabbits," states Holton. "And this is only one example of how removing cats from an ecosystem has backfired; there are several examples with similar devastating outcomes."
Alley Cat Rescue's letter also points out that money would be better spent on implementing a non-lethal management plan, such as Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR), that preserves life by sterilizing, vaccinating, and returning cats to their outdoor home. The effectiveness of TNR programs at reducing cat populations, as well as reducing cost, is supported by numerous studies including one recently published in The Veterinary Journal. The study showed that implementing a TNR program for feral cats in a targeted area decreased the local animal control impound rate of cats by 66 percent, while also decreasing the shelter's euthanasia rate of cats by 95 percent.
Along with the letter, Alley Cat Rescue sent Mr. Hunt over 6,300 signatures from supporters who agree killing cats is not a solution to addressing the declining bird populations nor is it morally acceptable. A similar letter and an additional 2,500 signatures were delivered to Australia Ambassador Kim Beazley in Washington, D.C.
On November 2nd, Mr. Hunt told ABC's Landline, "There are up to 20 million feral cats taking up to four native Australian animals a night. That is over 20 billion Australian native species being destroyed a year." After a thorough investigation, ABC Fact Check found no evidence to support this claim saying, "Mr. Hunt's claim that feral cats are destroying over 20 billion native Australian animals each year is unverifiable."
Alley Cat Rescue is an international nonprofit organization dedicated to the welfare of stray and feral cats. ACR follows a no-kill policy that strongly advocates TNR programs for feral cats and operates a low-cost spay/neuter clinic and an adoption program. For more information, please visit www.SaveACat.org.