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When cats are released, small wild animals die. Australia has seen more than 2 billion local cat deaths a year in recent years.
Australian zoologists have sounded an alarming figure comparing hundreds of studies of the predatory skills of local wild cats with those of domestic cats. Scientists have acknowledged the historical and ongoing damage to cats in Australia’s wildlife and described the situation in the book “Cats in Australia”.
In just one day, millions of Australian cats are killing about 1.5 million birds, 1.9 million reptiles and just over 3.2 million mammals.
Cats appeared in Australia thanks to European colonizers in the middle of the 18th century. Data collected in 2017 confirms that wild cats live in 99.8 parts of the continent and occupy 80% of the surrounding islands.
Current estimates of the number of wild cats in Australia range from 2 million to 6 million. And when food is abundant, there is a huge increase in kittens. Each wild cat exterminates about 750 local animals every year, says Sarah Legge, chief scientist at the School of Earth and Environmental Science at Queensland University in Australia.
The human factor
There are about 4 million domesticated cats in the vicinity of the wild. Their owners, who allow their pets to spend most of their time outdoors, may never see the natural instincts of their favorite animal. However, one domestic cat exterminates about 80 animals each year.
It seems that this figure is ridiculous compared to the number of cats killed by the paws of wild cats. However, the density of cats in the city is several times higher than in the countryside (about 60 cats per square kilometer), and wildlife pays a lethal price for it, Legge explained.
“As a result, cats in urban areas kill far more cats per square kilometre each year than cats in the wild,” explains the scientist.
The solution to the problem
Australian officials have identified several solutions to the problem: catching, shooting and another inhumane way of disposing of animals.
These rejections are expected to reduce the number of wild cats from 6 million to 4 million by 2020. However, for some of Australia’s endangered wildlife populations, it may be too late, said Christopher Dickman, a professor of terrestrial ecology with a school of life and environmental science at the University of Sydney. The real figures show that cats can cause the extinction of 36 bird species, 38 mammal species, 7 reptile species and 4 amphibian species.
“Many of Australia’s indigenous species cannot protect themselves from high levels of cat predation and will increasingly be listed in the Red Book if the problem persists,” Diekman said in a statement.