Scientists rally to keep out 'supercats'

To: Birding-aus <>, Beth Mantle <>
Subject: Scientists rally to keep out 'supercats'
From: Gemfyre <>
Date: Fri, 13 Jun 2008 12:22:57 +0800
Thank you for this.  Agreed 100%.

(another responsible cat owner and Conservation Biologist)

On Fri Jun 13 9:20 , Beth Mantle <> sent:

Ah yes, another opportunity to start "cat-bashing" on the Birding-Aus
email list.

I am wearied by those who relish an opportunity to make bird-loving
cat-owners seem like traitors to the Australian Ecology. I think it
is quite rude, and I for one am completely fed up with it. I find it
particularly offensive when I am regaled with tales of cat cruelty, in
the name of "saving the Australian natives", usually after I have
confessed to owning a cat (like a criminal - I feel it is a

I could write on for paragraphs as to why (in my humble opinion) cat-
bashers are generally quite ignorant about the complexity of the feral
animal problem, and instead use domestic cats as a scape-goat for the
atrocious way we are managing the Australian landscape.

Instead, read some literature and get informed. Prof, Chris Dickson
from Sydney University (mentioned in the below article) has himself said
"Despite the abundance of observations linking cats to extensive
losses of native species, other evidence suggests that their impact
has been minimal". Furthermore, domestic "suburban" cats are making
very little difference to suburban ecology for the simple reason that
the animals they are killing are dominant species that occur in large
numbers (e.g. Crested pigeon, Magpie-lark, Noisy miner etc.) (Low,

I agree that introducing the Ashera hybrid into Australia would be a
disaster and I hope it is prevented.

However, domestic cats were brought here by Europeans and they are
here to stay. Instead of attacking cat-owners who clearly have a
strong sense of ecological responsibility (like Bill, who keeps his
cat contained), they should be congratulated and held up to the
general public as a shining example of responsible cat ownership.
Then petition your local council to make cat neutering, registration
and containment compulsory. It is much more productive than "the only
good cat is a dead cat" email or conversation.

Thank you.

Dr Beth Mantle
Ecologist AND cat-owner (gasp!)

On 13/06/2008, at 9:27 AM, Alastair Smith wrote:

>> 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
> Australia.
> 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
> said.
> "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
> implications.
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