feral cats and immigration (The Age)

To: " net. au" <>
Subject: feral cats and immigration (The Age)
From: Chris Sanderson <>
Date: Tue, 8 Jan 2013 14:46:07 +1100
Hi all,

I disagree with the premise that science hasn't proven the cat to be a
problem. There are some good island ecology papers that directly implicate
cats with extinctions (which the Age author casually dismisses), and of
course the highly anecdotal story about the lighthouse keeper's cat and the
Stephens Island Wren in New Zealand (where "Tibbles" allegedly
singlehandedly wiped the entire species off the face of the earth, though
it turns out he had some help from feral cats).

Other than that direct evidence, there is a suite of exclusion experiments
(such as island arks and predator free sanctuaries) where, in the absence
of introduced carnivores, native animals have begun to thrive again.  This
in my mind constitutes evidence of an at least partially causal
relationship between introduced carnivores and loss of species.  You could
also include the success of various baiting programs as evidence.

And then there is this:
The population of Bilby in Currawinya NP massacred by cats.

Most damning though is a recent experiment run by the AWC in the Northern
A simple experiment to be sure, but highly effective in proving the point.

Personally I think that qualifies as ample evidence that feral cats (and
foxes) are very harmful to our native animals.  Arguing the science doesn't
exist doesn't cut it for me.


On Tue, Jan 8, 2013 at 1:46 PM, Jeremy O'Wheel <> wrote:

> 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.
> Jeremy
> 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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