Les hommes ont oublié cette vérité. Mais tu ne dois pas l'oublier, dit le renard. Tu deviens responsable pour toujours de ce que tu as apprivoisé.
Le Petit Prince, chap. 21

Monday, 20 April 2015

Potential biological control of cats in Australia

Moodie, E. (1995). The potential for biological control of feral cats in Australia. New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service.

There is a need to clarify the impacts of feral cats on wildlife populations and thus set clear objectives for their control.

No method of biological control is available for immediate use. Fertility control using a contraceptive vaccine is the option with the most promise. This approach and two other broad strategies (a mortality approach usint lethal disease and environmental manipulation) are discussed in detail.

Although Feline Parvovirus has been used in attempts to control feral cats elsewhere, animal welfare concerns and probable immunity are likely to prevent its use in mainland Australia. No other feline diseases would cause rapid death in a relatively humane manner to a large enough proportion of a cat population to be useful for biological control.

The diseases and ecology (including population dynamics, reproduction and behaviour) of cats, and community attitudes to their control are discussed in depth. Relatively little information was available on feral cats. Most is derived from studies of domestic cats. Research currently underway is described. More information is needed on the ecology and epidemiology of diseases in feral cat populations in order to develop predictive models for specific biological control agents. Serological surveys for viral diseases in feral populations are given nights priority.

A fertility control approach using an immunocontraceptive vaccine probably has a reasonable chance of success in relation to public acceptability if the technical hurdles can be overcome. These include ensuring that the vaccine is cat specific, that it induces sterility without affecting social behaviour and that it's effects last long enough to be worthwhile. No effective chemical sterilants are available.

Results of research programs on immunocontraception of rabbits and foxes should indicate whether it is a feasible option for vertebrate pest control. Non-transmissible agents are more likely to be publicly acceptable because of concerns over the safety or other species and pet cats.

Attributes of successful pest control programs (for cats and other vertebrate pest species) are discussed. Refinement and combined use of conventional control methods will be essential for future cat control whether of not biological control is used.

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