MP defends feral cats again, says phasing out livestock is more important

Animal Justice MP Mark Pearson says phasing out livestock is more important than stopping feral cats


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Feral cats are behind two-thirds of native mammal extinctions in Australia. Photo by Michael Wysong.

Feral cats are behind two-thirds of native mammal extinctions in Australia. Photo by Michael Wysong.

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Animal Justice MP Mark Pearson takes to social media to defend feral cats

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FERAL cats are behind two-thirds of native mammal extinctions and currently threaten another 120 species – but a NSW MP says phasing out livestock farming is more important than addressing the pests’ 1000-animal-per-year diet. 

Upper House Animal Justice MP Mark Pearson took to social media yesterday to defend the pest and rubbish a Federal Government plan to humanely trap and euthanaise a third of Australia’s six-million feral cat population by 2020. 

In a Facebook post discussing the move, Mr Pearson said “we need to stop demonising” the pest that kills, individually, 1000 animals per year – including threatened birds, lizards, and mammals. 

Instead of addressing the damage done by cats, he said the best way to protect native species was to “end land clearing, phase out animal agriculture and re-vegetate and re-afforest marginal land currently being used for sheep and cattle farming.”

“The sad truth is that the deaths of all these cats will achieve nothing other than pain and suffering.” 

“Within a few years the surviving cats will breed up and the numbers will return to pre-existing levels. 

“There will still be plenty of existing agricultural land available for plant-based agriculture.”

Mr Pearson also repeated calls for the estimated six million feral cat population to be whittled down with desexing and fertility control programs

The RSPCA says it is “difficult to recommend” the trap-neuter-release approach as, among other things, returning desexed cats to their trapping location may breach existing animal welfare or feral animal management laws.

The RSPCA also says for remote Australia, “where feral cats are completely unsocialised and not candidates for rehoming”, the most cost-effective and humane option was “targeted and ongoing lethal control in priority areas where adverse environmental impacts are highest”.

Mr Pearson argued “every cat killed (in a cull) will be replaced by a survivor's kittens who expand their territory.”

Sydney Morning Herald journalist Julie Power reported at the weekend the federal government was targeting two million feral cats by 2020 and will provide $5 million to community groups to get involved.

Threatened Species Commissioner Gregory Andrews said the cull would not target pets.

We have got to make choices to save animals that we love, and who define us as a nation like the bilby, the warru (Black-footed rock-wallaby) and the night parrot. - Threatened Species Commissioner Gregory Andrews

"They are the single biggest threat to our native animals, and have already directly driven out of extinction 20 out of 30 mammals lost," Mr Andrews said.

"We have got to make choices to save animals that we love, and who define us as a nation like the bilby, the warru (Black-footed rock-wallaby) and the night parrot."

The SMH report said about 211,000 cats were culled last year, including dozens in Kosciusko that were preying on mountain pygmy possums, and others preying on bilbies, bandicoots, numbats and night parrots in remote and arid Australia.

A 5kg warru that was devoured by a 6.8kg feral cat caught by rangers. Photo: Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yangkuntjatjata Rangers.

A 5kg warru that was devoured by a 6.8kg feral cat caught by rangers. Photo: Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yangkuntjatjata Rangers.

At a NSW budget estimates session last year Mr Pearson said cats roaming the bush weren’t feral, but “free-living” – and deserving of equal consideration to the native wildlife they prey on.

Mr Pearson said desexed feral cats, once re-released, could prevent new feral cats hunting on their turf before gradually dying out – “a win-win rather than a kill-kill”.

NSW Primary Industries Minister Niall Blair rubbished the idea. 

“The problem I have with the trap-neuter-return policy is that it does not address the impact that cats – free-living, feral or whatever you want to call them – have on wildlife populations, particularly native wildlife populations,” Mr Blair said at the time.

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