In Australia, when untamed cats wander around freely in the wilderness, around two billion wild native animals lose their lives each and every year. While going through a lot of behavioral studies on the Australian wild cats roaming freely and the untamed cats, environmental researchers start worrying about the consequences of the damages caused by those predators in the wildlife; which was and still is documented in the book “Cats in Australia” (CSIRO Publishing, 2019).
Each day, around 1.3 million birds, 1.8 million reptiles and more than 3.1 million mammals are being killed by Australia’s millions of cats.
Due to European colonizers in the 18th century, cats started settling down in Australia. Also, according to a report in 2017, we can find feral cats in 99.8% of the continent, this percentage includes 80% of Australia’s islands.
According to the statement of Sarah Legge, co-author and a principal research fellow with the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Queensland University of Australia, the estimated number of feral cats in Australia in around 2 million, and if prey is abundant during rainy years it goes up to 6 million, plus, every year, each feral cat hunts around 740 native animals.
Legge explains too that maybe pet owners who let their cats wander outside may never witness a predatory behavior from their kitties, but with about 4 million pet cats in Australia and the average of 75 kills per kitty comes an alarming signal.
Although this might look like a light matter in comparison to the damages caused by feral cats, but because of the urban cat populations ’crowdedness compared to the rural zones; as it’s about 60 cats per square kilometer (180 cats per square mile), the wildlife in urban spaces is becoming a serious threat. To sum it all up, cats in urban areas, kill more prey per square than the cats in the wilderness.
A lot of strategies have been made by the Australian officials to control the feral cat’s populations; from shooting to trapping and poisoning using lure such as toxic sausages.
Co-author Christopher Dickman, a professor in terrestrial ecology with the School of Life and Environmental Sciences at Sydney University, explains that such solutions will be able to eradicate around 2 million cats by 2020; however, some sensitive species Australian wildlife may be threatened by extinction with time. According to SEWPAC (Australia’s Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population, and Communities) Cats are the main dangerous predator to 35 species of birds, 3 amphibian species, 36 mammal species, and 7 reptile species.
Dr. Dickman says too that unless the problems of feral cats in Australia is solved, many Australians native species won’t be able to survive through the harsh high levels of predation, thus are at high risk of institution.