Alley Cat Rescue Calls for Boycott of Australia

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Alley Cat Rescue is calling for a boycott of Australian products and travel to the country in light of its new plan to cull 2 million feral cats by 2020. The plan is yet another battle waged against feral cats in the country and is a grossly misguided attempt at environmental conservation.

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With today’s ever-advancing, nonlethal methods of controlling species populations, like Trap-Neuter-Return and emerging oral contraceptives for feral cats there is no reason to continue the use of out-dated and barbaric methods of eradication.

Alley Cat Rescue President and founder Louise 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 wreaked havoc on 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."

Not only does killing one species for the benefit of another lead to unintended consequences, it is at best a temporary “solution.” During a 13-month study conducted in the forests of Southern Tasmania feral cats were trapped and killed in an effort to reduce their numbers. The study’s author, wildlife biologist Billie Lazenby, instead found the minimum number of cats at the observed sites had increased from 75 to 211 percent.(1)

Removing the cats only served to open the sites to other cats from the surrounding area, a clear example of the “vacuum effect.” World-renowned biologist Roger Tabor, the first to observe and document this effect during his studies of feral cats in England, has said, “Although a total ‘wipe-out’ often appeals to authorities due to its apparent simplicity, it normally fails, as it does not allow for biological reality, and worse, is often counter-productive.”(2)

Australia ranks in the top 10 countries for land clearing and it is one of the countries most at risk from climate change. It devotes two thirds of its land to agriculture, 90 percent of which is used for grazing non-native cattle and sheep.(3) According to the 2013 State of the World's Birds report, the primary cause of declining bird populations is habitat loss, agricultural expansion, climate change, and pollution. Holton says Australia’s plans will continue to be counter-productive until it accepts the fact that humans, and human-caused climate change, are the primary drivers of environmental problems in the country.

"Lethal methods of wildlife management are unethical, inhumane, and cruel," states Holton. “With today’s ever-advancing, nonlethal methods of controlling species populations, like Trap-Neuter-Return and emerging oral contraceptives for feral cats such as GonaCon, there is no reason to continue the use of out-dated and barbaric methods of eradication,” explains Holton. Humane, nonlethal methods for controlling cat populations (and other species) exist and should be advocated for by all who are trying to instill a more compassionate ethic towards the Earth and ALL its inhabitants.

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(1) http://www.sciencealert.com/culling-feral-cats-may-actually-increase-their-numbers-study-suggests
(2) Roger Tabor. “Understanding Cats;” Readers Digest, 1997.
(3) http://www.australia.gov.au/about-australia/australian-story/austn-farming-and-agriculture

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Denise Hilton
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