Scientists rally to keep out 'supercats'

To: "'Birding-aus'" <>
Subject: Scientists rally to keep out 'supercats'
From: "Alastair Smith" <>
Date: Fri, 13 Jun 2008 09:27:42 +1000
>From the ABC news website:


Supercat or superbad? An 11kg ashera, a cross between an African serval, an
Asian leopard and a domestic cat (Reuters: Mike Blake, file photo)

*        <> Related
Story: Push to outlaw hybrid supercats 

Forty of the nation's leading feral animal researchers are calling for
urgent changes to prevent hybrid supercats from being imported into

The Federal Government has been under fire after it was revealed last week
that savannah cats - twice as big as domestic species - are being imported
by pet shops.

Scientists are warning that bandicoots, bettongs, potoroos and possums could
soon be on the menu for the imported creatures, which were originally bred
by crossing domestic cats with the African serval cat.

Scientists, environmentalists and bureaucrats attending a National Feral Cat
Workshop in Darwin this week have angrily condemned the quarantine loophole.

The University of Sydney's professor of ecology, Chris Dickman, is warning
hybrid cats - which can jump up to two metres from a standing start - would
be uncontrollable in the Australian outback.

"It's taken a lot of people who are concerned about the impacts of cats in
the Australian environment off guard," he said.

"I think there will be some real concern expressed at the meeting that here
is an example of another species, a predator that is quite capable almost
certainly of taking a wide range of native species.

"It hasn't come in through the usual quarantine processes, risk assessments
that would otherwise need to be done."

Professor Dickman fears savannah cats would prey on the same Australian
wildlife as foxes.

He says that while foxes can be poisoned, cats have proved extremely hard to
control in the outback.

"It would be competing with the fox for food in the same size class. We can
control the fox, we are not very good at controlling cats at the moment," he

"Cats tend to prefer living food, live food, that they catch themselves. And
as a consequence, it's much more difficult to put baits out and expect feral
cats to eat them."

The Environment Department says it has been in contact with two people
proposing to import savannah cats later this year, and is examining the



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