The Geelong Cats are the most destructive footy team in Australia ahead of the South Sydney Rabbitohs and the ACT Brumbies.
The AFL stalwarts are known as the Cats, and cats are the single most destructive introduced species in Australia.
Cats are estimated to kill about 1.5 billion native animals per annum in Australia. This destruction is the work of domestic cats, stray cats and feral cats. All of these cats are derived from pet cats. Feline species have never been native to Australia.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, in 1994 only 26% of domestic cats were confined both during the day and night. This means 74% of cats where roaming happily, hunting and destroying native wildlife. In the same year, 42,126 cats were dumped on the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA). Only 3% of the cats were reclaimed and 74% were put down.
Feral cats threaten at least 124 Australian species which are in danger of extinction, and cats are a major reason that Australia has the highest rate of native mammal extinction in the world – not per capita – outright.
How do we solve this problem?
Ban cat breeding in Australia.
Ban the importation of any cat into Australia.
Introduce a cat curfew which keeps pet cats confined to their homes, or to a cat run, 24 hours a day.
Allocate more funds and resources to feral cat eradication programs.
The Rabbitohs trail Geelong in terms of destruction.
Rabbits cause about a billion dollars in lost agricultural production production every five years, and cause enormous damage to native flora and fauna. As few as one to two rabbits per hectare are able to stop native perennials sprouting, and rabbits contribute to drought conditions by removing native and other vegetation.
How do we solve this problem?
With science, and funding.
Viruses such as the calicivirus helped to reduce numbers, but rabbits soon built a resistance to this virus. Myxomatosis was later developed and was very successful in eradicating many rabbits. However, rabbits are likely to develop a resistance to this virus as well, so continued funding and research is required to keep rabbit numbers in check.
Eradicating feral and stray cats, and controlling pet cats, would help ensure the survival of more native animals. All Australians would see and hear more native birds, even in cities and suburbs, and native animals would continue to support the native ecosystem on which all Australians rely for our survival. We need native animals.
The ACT Super Rugby team meanwhile, plays under a mascot which is causing enormous damage to the Australian environment, especially in the NSW Snowy Mountains. Countless campaigns have been launched to eradicate the brumbies and protect the national park, but conservative forces in New South Wales resist their removal, claiming feral horses are part of Australia’s folklore, largely because someone wrote a poem about them as far back as 1890.
Eradicating, or at least controlling, cats and rabbits is an enormous challenge. Removing brumbies from national parks, however, is not as challenging. Various methods, including aerial culls, exist and are proven to work. The program could start tomorrow, and the national park could be saved. All that is needed is political will.
Images: Mike Bowers, South Sydney Rabbitohs, Geelong Cats, Jae Park