During a speech in Parliament on October 17 1996 — 18 years ago today — then Liberal MP Richard Evans called for the “total eradication of domestic and feral cats from the Australian mainland and offshore islands by the year 2020”.
Similarly, Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt last week announced a 10-year plan to eradicate “all of the significant populations of feral cats around Australia”.
|A feral cat in the bush. Tim Doherty,|
It’s great that the national conversation is gaining momentum on this issue. Australia has lost 30 mammal species to extinction in just over 200 years, which is the worst mammal extinction record anywhere in the world. According to Professor John Woinarski at Charles Darwin University, at least 20 of these can be attributed to cats.
A recent wave of mammal declines in parts of northern Australia, such as Kakadu National Park, has sparked a renewed call for action on feral cats.
But how many cats are out there? If we look at the evidence, we really don’t know.