feral cats and immigration (The Age)

To: Andrew Thelander <>
Subject: feral cats and immigration (The Age)
From: "Jeremy O'Wheel" <>
Date: Tue, 8 Jan 2013 13:46:40 +1100
I think this article is falling for the fallacy of argument from ignorance.
 There haven't been very good studies on the impact of feral cats on the
mainland of Australia, so from the scientific evidence it's difficult to
claim that they don't have an impact, or that they do have an impact.

I have heard a carnivore ecologist suggest that they could be doing good
though, because in large parts of Australia all of the former main
predators are extinct or functionally extinct (such as Tasmania), so
animals like cats and foxes may have moved in to fill the niche, while
animals threatened by cats and foxes mainly already went extinct in the
second wave of human facilitated mass extinctions in Australia.  There are
some individual exceptions to this I believe, but I guess the case being
made to me was that in general the impact of cats isn't severe.  I have my
doubts about the case for cats though.

Anyway until some robust science is done that looks at more than
just casualties (since predators are important part of ecosystems and
everything dies, so the fact that predators eat particular animals doesn't
necessarily mean they're doing damage), I think claims that cats are good,
bad or neutral for the environment should be viewed with some caution.


On Tue, Jan 8, 2013 at 1:17 PM, Andrew Thelander <>wrote:

> Adrian Franklin also develops this argument in his book, Animal Nation
> (UNSW Press, 2006) in which he cites others who have drawn this
> metaphorical parallel between attitudes to feral animals and human
> immigrants. He seems to like Tim Low's book, The New Nature, saying "the
> implication from Tim Low is that if we let go of the idea of a proper,
> perfectible nature and concentrate on *possible* natures and how we can
> assist them into being, then all manner of beautiful, interesting and
> life-affirming things can happen that are truly Australian, reflecting our
> true history and natural history. This is the enigma of hybrid
> environments, hybrid lives and human-animal relations." [p.235]
> Aside from the question whether automatic loathing of feral animals is a
> form of "eco-nationalism", I assume Franklin thinks we can't practically
> eradicate feral cats (look at how the Brits at an early stage poured money
> into eradicating Nth American stoats but failed) but that we can "assist
> into being" some kind of hybrid balance between the old and the new that
> doesn't involve actual extinction. This may not be as silly as it sounds
> given recent publicity about how protecting dingos in some areas keeps
> foxes and cats down and allows small mammals to maintain numbers.
> Does Franklin have a point or should we just repeat the call made in 1996
> by the WA Liberal MP, Richard Evans, who wanted all cats - feral or
> otherwise - eradicated from Australia by 2020? Good old King Canute??
> On 08/01/2013, at 11:51 AM, Andrew Stafford wrote:
> > To put it impolitely, this might be the biggest load of crap this side
> of a dysentery epidemic:
> >
> >
> >
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