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Potential Implementation of Curfews in Australia’s Fight Against Feral Cats

The Australian government will deploy a range of measures in its war against feral cats.

Felines have contributed to the deaths of millions of native species including including reptiles, birds, and mammals.

Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek said native animals had little chance of survival if action was delayed.

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“We are declaring war on feral cats. And today, we are setting up our battle plan to win that war,” Ms. Plibersek stated on Sep. 7.

The $60 million (US$38 million) action plan will incorporate innovative technology, such as the Felixer cat grooming trap. This humane and automated tool employs AI technology to identify and spray feral cats with toxic gels. As the cat grooms itself, it licks and ingests the poison, and then dies.

Additionally, the government intends to expand cat-free islands and havens through legislation to halt the spread of this “walking, stalking, ruthless killer.”

Ecology Professor Sarah Legge, who contributed to the draft plan, warned that without serious measures, iconic native wildlife like bilbies, numbats, and night parrots could disappear forever.

A bilby in the Bilby Enclosure at Taronga Zoo in Sydney, Australia on April 20, 2014. (Chris Jackson/Getty Images)
A bilby in the Bilby Enclosure at Taronga Zoo in Sydney, Australia on April 20, 2014. (Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

“The environmental toll from cats cannot be understated. They are responsible for the deaths of an estimated two billion native mammals, birds, reptiles, and frogs every year and have driven over 25 of our native species to extinction,” Legge said in a release.

“Cats are one of the main reasons Australia is the mammal extinction capital of the world,” Ms. Plibersek added.

Cat Curfews

The Australian government is also considering cat curfews for pet cats and evaluating whether councils should have increased authority to enforce such curfews.

“Most cat owners are very responsible, they keep their cats indoors, but people who are letting their cats wander at night get little gifts on the doorstep quite often, and that’s a real threat to our native animals,” Ms. Plibersek told 2GB radio.

“We really would like people to keep the cats inside, particularly at night. So we’re consulting on where the council should be given more powers to do that.”

When asked whether she is ready to face backlash from cat owners with this move, Ms. Plibersek, who has two dogs, argued that between curfews and poisoning cats, curfew were the lesser evil.

“There’s nothing humane about the six animals that are being killed by the average cat every night in Australia,” she noted.

Feral cat with sugar glider in Barry Brook, Tasmania. (Courtesy of Invasive Species Council.)
Feral cat with sugar glider in Barry Brook, Tasmania. (Courtesy of Invasive Species Council.)

“Think about how efficient those cats are at hunting a bird, bat, mouse, or frog. Feral cats have played a role in two-thirds of mammal extinctions in Australia.”

While the new plan is under development

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