Gone native

Animal conservation, alien species, and feral cats in Australia

source: Melanie Cooper
based on interview with John Wamsley
New Scientist November 17 2001
Starts p48, 4 pages long

There are some 25 species of Australian mammals that are under threat, and there is a need to tackle the problem using methods that are effective in terms of saving species rather than just attracting funds. The government has sometimes reclassified species as not being under threat, though their numbers are low, and there is no agreement on the definition of ‘endangered’. National Parks have tended not to be effective in this area, and a representative from the National Parks has opposed the reintroduction of native species in sanctuaries. Native species are important for biodiversity.

Alien species and feral cats are a problem for native Australian wildlife. Sanctuary workers were not permitted to interfere with these cats, despite the destruction of wildlife they caused. Animal liberationists protested at the idea of feral cats being attacked. A campaign has led to a change in the law, and any cat found in a wildlife sanctuary can be shot, even a cat with a collar. The public has realised that feral cats can cause problems, and the term ‘responsible cat owner’ is now commonly used.