Calver, M. C., King, D. R., & Short, J. (1998). Ecological blunders and conservation: the impact of introduced foxes and cats on Australian native fauna. Journal of Biological Education, 32(1), 67-72.
Many vertebrate extinctions followed the introduction of the exotic predators, the fox and the cat, to Australia. While experiments have confirmed the case against the fox as a serious threat to endangered species, there are no direct experimental links showing recovery of prey populations following culling of cat numbers. This, coupled with the emotional attachment of many people to cats, has led to some opposition to their control, especially when limitations on the freedom of pets to roam are proposed. The introduced predator case is a stimulating example for teaching aspects of the emerging discipline of conservation biology and highlights the interplay of bioethics, public opinion, and biological principles in conservation decision-making. Suggested classroom exercises allow students to compare and contrast experimental and non-experimental approaches to assessing predator impact, consider ethical issues in controlling predators for conservation, and reach their own conclusions on the impact of cats on local wildlife.