Australian Ecologist Deploys a Deadly Robotic Killing Machine to Terminate Feral Cats

The Terminator
The Terminator, By Source, Fair use,

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

An Australian ecologist has created and deployed a killing machine, which uses robot technology to identify and spray feral cats with poison. The cats die when they lick the deadly poison off their fur. The feral cats are being targeted, because of the threat they pose to rare and endangered birds.

Robots, lasers, poison: the high-tech bid to cull wild cats in the outback

A trial of ‘grooming traps’ is aiming to eradicate one of the biggest threats to Australian wildlife – feral felines.

It took John Read, an ecologist seven years to invent and produce four of the “grooming traps”. After extensive testing, he has switched on the first one in a nature reserve in south-west Queensland.

“Cats are hard-wired to hunt,” Read said. That means they can kill dozens of animals a night but it also means they are often reluctant to eat baits since they prefer to kill an animal themselves.

“This trap targets the cats’ achilles heel,” Read said. Being fastidious groomers, cats will lick off almost anything that gets on their fur. So Read has developed a trap that exploits their tendency to try to get their numbers under control.

With four laser rangefinders, the trap detects when something moves in front of it. If it’s taller than a cat – perhaps a dingo or a koala – the top rangefinder will be triggered and it shuts down. Similarly, a rangefinder at the bottom needs to be able to see between the cat’s legs, meaning a low-slung animal like a wombat or a quoll won’t trigger it.

Finally, two rangefinders at the front and back of the trap need to be triggered simultaneously, indicating something the length of a cat has moved in front of it.

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This device is obviously not quite the deadly Terminator cyborg from science fiction, but it has to be seen as a big step towards building scary autonomous robotic killing machines. Who would have thought an ecologist would come up with something like that? Perhaps we should all start being nicer to our local bird watchers, especially those with an Ecology degree – there is no telling what they are working on in their basements.

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April 17, 2016 10:55 am

I predict a dramatic increase in slovenly cats in Australia.

Reply to  BCBill
April 17, 2016 11:00 am

..OMG…that’s funny, and one I didn’t think of ! It was worth wasting an entire Canadian beer on my screen ! Thanks, I think …

Reply to  BCBill
April 18, 2016 1:57 am

Or more cats in Australia developing or financing windmills.

April 17, 2016 10:57 am

..Seriously, this is legal ?? I can see many things going wrong with this ! Automated Animal killers ( and what ever else it decides to exterminate ) = more proof of liberal insanity ! In Canada, we spade and neuter them..just a little more HUMANE !

Donna K. Becker
Reply to  Marcus
April 17, 2016 11:36 am


Reply to  Donna K. Becker
April 17, 2016 1:00 pm

Perhaps he meant hitting them with a spade. Much more human than a long lingering death after being poisoned by the local eco-fascist green-shirts.

Reply to  Donna K. Becker
April 17, 2016 1:28 pm

Maybe they hit ’em with a spade, eh?

Reply to  Donna K. Becker
April 17, 2016 2:13 pm

I don’t know why, but the comments in this thread have me wonderin’ about Huma. I mean, like, the only profile lower than Huma’s, here lately, is the one that that Vince dude keeps–and I mean, like, his profile is so altitude-deficient that ol’ Vince can even clear a zero-elevation limbo-stick with six feet to spare. Really! I’M NOT KIDDING!!!

Reply to  Donna K. Becker
April 17, 2016 10:38 pm

We have TNR programs here…but I suppose they wouldn’t like the idea of letting them go.

Reply to  Marcus
April 17, 2016 12:55 pm

Who would have thought an ecologist would come up with something like that?

Doesn’t surprise me in the slightest. Summary execution: typical eco-fascist response to anything that does not fit the arbitrary snapshot of life on Earth that they have decided must be restorted and maintained, unchanging, at all cost: the mid 19th century.

Reply to  Greg
April 17, 2016 2:40 pm

I call them Victorian gardeners. Their idea of ecology is a place for everybody, as long as everybody is in their place. And that means you too Mr. Weather! They just don’t get “Life finds a way”.

Reply to  Greg
April 17, 2016 3:35 pm

I agree with Greg. Fascist, communist, syndicalist, whatever but single-Party dictatorship.
We may be wrong though as they also seem to treat the “ecology or environment” like a religion would. Maybe this really is a theology.
Killing cats, not ALL feral, seems bad. Trapping is fine but spay or neuter and adopt. Kill the diseased I guess and maybe the vicious but don’t just murder them. Like landmines these things will kill the innocent.

Pat Frank
Reply to  Greg
April 17, 2016 6:31 pm

Can the kill-bot tell the difference between a feral cat and some generic cat-sized animal? Like a wallaby for example, or an Echidna, or a spotted quoll, or a wombat?
The law of unintended consequences seems in the offing here.
And think of the cane toads! Such endearing slimers! What about them?

george e. smith
Reply to  Greg
April 18, 2016 11:24 am

I thought Australia had snakes ??

george e. smith
Reply to  Greg
April 18, 2016 11:27 am

PS I had a cat once that ate snakes. Ate everything in the yard, including a jack rabbit; not counting the hind legs,
I believe the dog (boxer) caught the hare, but it was the cat that ate it.

Reply to  Greg
April 18, 2016 2:27 pm

Oh The Chihuahua of it all …
(as opposed Oh The Humanity…)
I predict a shortage of small dogs (and perhaps their owners…) to annoy the ever larger average cat…

Reply to  Marcus
April 17, 2016 1:51 pm

This guy is just another cat hater. I sincerely hope one of his landmines detonates prematurely right in his… puss.

Reply to  dbstealey
April 17, 2016 2:19 pm

So….lasers in the wild of the Australian outback? What is their power source? If it hums, clicks, or emits any mechanical sound, cats will avoid it. How do these laser rangefinder stay clean and able to “see” in that kind of environment? Does the man think feral cats are stupid as well as wild? One dead cat, or even the smell of a removed dead cat signals the others to stay away from the machine.
I love watching science “experts” don’t you?

Reply to  dbstealey
April 17, 2016 4:06 pm

You guys have no idea the destruction on native wildlife they cause or their numbers in the wild and that’s the point in the wild ! Why would we want to neuter them they ain’t rappin the animals they are eating them .and it would be nigh impossible to catch and sterilise them anyway .

Reply to  dbstealey
April 17, 2016 4:29 pm

Robert: it is very easy to capture feral cats in humane cages. Moreover, the purpose of a SNR seems to ellude your understanding. The object is to reduce their population by preventing brreding, not to spoil their fun. If you spay a critical number of females, the population will drop rapidly (if you think about it, spaying females in a surer way of reducing populations. Otherwise, a single Tom could keep the population high). A feral cat has a life expectancy of only about five years, making such a program very effective. How long and how many robots would you need to achieve the same results?
The biggest problem though, is that releasing a poison in nature is extremely dangerous. It will spread throughout the food chain, from the bottom feeders to the top predators, which includes endangered raptors.

Reply to  dbstealey
April 17, 2016 6:14 pm

@ Aphan April 17, 2016 at 2:19 pm “What is their power source?” They, of course, each have their own 1 megawatt wind turbine and 1 acre solar cell farm plus pumped storage so that they work at night when the cats are out and about.

Reply to  dbstealey
April 17, 2016 8:22 pm

John Harmon “Killing cats, not ALL feral, seems bad. Trapping is fine but spay or neuter and adopt. Kill the diseased I guess and maybe the vicious”
We don’t have anything in the wild to keep cat numbers down in Australia, the only control seems to be the limit on their food supply – and their food supply is what we’re trying to protect.. Having seen feral cats (and the damage they do) on farms and in bushland in Oz I can assure you these are not animals you’d want to go near and in all likelihood if you did ever get close to one, would demand them killed on site. I’ve shot my fair share of them over the years and I’ve known a few individuals who trap them as well – their normal method is trap then shoot from a safe distance – or risk a nasty injury. I don’t like what traps do so I just shoot. Even is suburbia they can do great harm. I had 5 families of New Holland Honeyeaters in my garden, 43 individuals – a neighbor bought a cat and in the space of a year we are down to none.
jtom: “releasing a poison in nature is extremely dangerous. It will spread throughout the food chain”
Fortunately the poison of choice here seems to be 1080, a naturally occurring plant derivative, extremely toxic to non-indigenous species but something a lot of animals in Australia can tolerate.
To be honest I’m not a fan of traps, automated or otherwise as their success in discrimination is poor- if they used computerized pattern recognition then I’d be happier, but break beam technology is really not that good. Cats are a real problem though and something we need to get under control.
As an aside to the cane toads, I was reading that our native rats (lesson in biology, dingoes are NOT our only placental mammal, with river rats predating them by quite a considerable time 🙂 are very adept at killing and eating cane toads with no ill effects. Sadly they were culled in the past and are relatively rare now, but should a biologist with a genuine concern for the environent decide to get the population numbers up, we may be able to bring the toads under control.

Reply to  Karl
April 17, 2016 8:35 pm

Cats are not nearly as lethal as you seem to believe.

Reply to  dbstealey
April 18, 2016 4:38 am

bdstealy ‘Cats are not nearly as lethal as you seem to believe’
My experience in bushlands only ranges from the Pilbara to Laverton to Pemberton in to the Darling Scarp so I haven’t seen all of Australia and I’m sure there must be regions where they fit in fine, but within those areas, I’ve seen marauding cats eliminate entire species. In the reserve behind Trigg we used to have blue wrens.. all gone. In Pemberton a landowner backing on the state forest paid quite well for me to eliminate 2 cats that had killed the entire blue wren population. It was easy – all I needed to do was note where any birds were nesting then set up a distance away and wait for night when the cats would be up the trees going for the nests. These same landowners were both biologists and had been trap-and-release tagging all the species on their property for years including marsupial predators – they’d never caught a cat no matter the bait. The trappers I knew who trapped cats used legtraps and found the best spot was to put them near nest trees.. cats aren’t well known for taking dead baits but they’re predictable around nests.

Reply to  dbstealey
April 18, 2016 4:51 pm

Robert, You apparently have no idea the destruction of field mice in Australia. The outbreaks are memorable.
So what happens the day the house cat gets prayed and the family kids pick it or it sleeps int heir bed?
Everything in Australia either bites, stings or instantly kills. There are plenty of animals higher on food chain than the cats.
Do like they do in every other civilized nation: bait, cage and spade.

Reply to  dbstealey
April 18, 2016 5:26 pm

dbstealey, meet Waterloo, Waterloo, meet dbstealey …

Reply to  dbstealey
April 19, 2016 12:23 am

So you think we should take the personal anecdotes of someone like ‘Karl’ instead? Do you believe his claim that cats climb up trees and eat every wren in existence? Really?
I call BS. I used to make wren houses. We used a USD quarter for the hole template. Other birds (mainly sparrows) could not use the wren house with that size hole.
So you think cats can get into places where wrens nest? Really? A cat couldn’t even get its paw into that size hole.
And do you believe Karl’s bizarre story that a neigbor got a cat as a pet — which then wiped out every bird in the neighborhood? Really? You believe that?
And do you believe him when he says:
“I’ve seen marauding cats eliminate entire species.”
You believe that comment? Really?
And did you view the short (2 minute) video posted by ’empiresentry’ above? That is reality, when there are not enough predators around. But some folks want to indiscriminately poison anything cat-sized in a continent-sized country, based on hearsay like Karl’s. Do you believe they can solve the problem that way? Really?
This is a site for rational folks. But there hasn’t been much in the way of verified numbers of birds killed by feral cats. Mostly, it’s a series of ‘just so’ stories that seem a little preposterous to me. One housecat/pet eradicating every bird in a locality? Do you believe that? Really?
As usual, a few commenters have staked out their position, but now they can’t provide verifiable, empirical evidence that feral cats do anywhere near that kind of damage they claim. So they make up personal anecdotes, as if that’s credible support for their beliefs. And as always, there is never any cost/benefit analysis, weighing the value of a rodent predator versus eliminating an effective predator that helps control rabbit- and rat- and mice-type pests.
Finally, your comment added nothing worthwhile to the discussion, did it? If you think it did, explain. I’m always happy to discuss the issues. But please leave the hearsay, and the drive-by comments out of it.

Reply to  dbstealey
April 19, 2016 12:42 am

My parents moved into a house in town and there was quite a range of birds then but then three new neighbours moved in and six cats and about all they saw after that were sparrows.

Reply to  mikebartnz
April 19, 2016 12:49 am

Ah. Another personal anecdote that everyone is expected take at face value? And we’re expected to believe that the cats left the sparrows alone, but ate every other bird?
You need to up your game.

Reply to  dbstealey
April 19, 2016 1:12 am

You really are a super stupid sod. It is 100% factual whether you believe it or not.
The only thing that changed was the introduction of six cats which had the affect of scarring most of the other bird life away. All you have done is shown me that you know sod all about nature as I have too often seen by so called cat lovers. You really are brainless.
Have you ever trapped an animal and seen what some are like when trapped. Truly scary some are.

Reply to  mikebartnz
April 19, 2016 10:18 am

mikebartnz, your name-calling is the result of your frustration at not having credible arguments.

Reply to  mikebartnz
April 19, 2016 10:48 am

mikebartnz: “You really are a super stupid sod.”
So Mike, I assume that since you have descended into pointless abuse and name-calling, according to the accepted conventions of debate you concede that you have lost the argument.
For what it’s worth, IMO the only super stupid sod round here is you.
You really aren’t the sharpest knife in the block, are you?

Reply to  catweazle666
April 19, 2016 11:55 pm

Your knife wouldn’t even make it in the block it is so thick and dull.

Reply to  dbstealey
April 19, 2016 6:04 am

“Finally, your comment added nothing worthwhile to the discussion, did it? ”
Color and context; it added color and context. In the greater scheme of things it looks as if your ‘ship’ ran aground on this subject, hence the “you have met your Waterloo” reference, a reference to Napoleon’s defeat there …
Eventually, we all meet our own “Waterloo.” Some sooner than others …

Reply to  dbstealey
April 19, 2016 9:46 am

I got the context; I understood your gratuitous drive-by comment. (I should point out that ships weren’t a part of the battle of Waterloo.) But instead of that cheap shot, can you explain the costs/benefits of trying to poison a particular predator in a continent sized area?
Is it possible? Are there better alternatives? What would the effects be, if you could actually make a dent in the population? Did you watch the video of the mouse infestation? Did you read the link, where the farmers say they do not want feral cats exterminated? Who knows more about the situation, the affected farmers, or internet commenters?
There’s no referee here, but I think I’m on solid ground: commenters arguing in favor of this “ecologist” wanting to poison vast tracts of outback are arguing from emotion; certainly not from logic, or from common sense.
Finally, I’ll meet my Waterloo if/when I admit defeat. But that hasn’t happened, and it isn’t likely to happen. I’m asking some inconvenient questions, and to the extent that they’re ignored or avoided, that “ecologist’s” pals have lost the debate.

Reply to  Marcus
April 17, 2016 2:26 pm

Okay. Keep it up. They’re coming to spray the skeptics next.
Well, just the ones of us that lick ourselves for grooming.

Reply to  mikerestin
April 17, 2016 5:03 pm

It’s not easy to catch feral cats in our wilderness the area is just too large unless you spend an absurd amount of money putting people with traps 100 s of kilometres from everywhere all over the country .
It is easy to catch town cats in traps but not for ferals as for the margins of city’s and towns maybe possible but not in the bush .
Why do we always put emotion into debates instead of logic ?

Reply to  mikerestin
April 19, 2016 1:05 am

So you believe that indiscriminate poisoning of cat-sized animals is the answer?
In a continent the size of Australia, doesn’t that seem silly?
I’ll be the first to admit that trapping isn’t the answer away from cities. But neither is random poisoning of the countryside.
And for what? If we discard all the baseless comments that are no more than opinions, we’re left with what appears to be a non-problem, as this article makes clear:
Farmers don’t want local Cat populations eradicated because to do so would result in plague populations of Rabbits and Mice… Cats do a better, cheaper, and more sustainable job…
The removal of feral species from Macquarie Island is one of the best examples of ecologists wrecking the ecosystem in the process of trying to turn it back to 1788. Cats, Rabbits, and Rats were first introduced in the 1860s. Although the Cats hunted some native birds, a new balance was formed in which all species were relatively assured of survival…
To deal with the problem of Cats, scientists asked for $500,000 to eliminate a feral population of around 500 Cats. Meanwhile, Rabbits were building up their immunity to myxomatosis. When the final Cat was removed in 2000, rabbit numbers were between 4,000 and 20,000. Within 6 years, the population had reached 130,000. To make matters worse, the elimination of Cats also led to population explosions of Rats, which in turn ate the bird eggs and chicks.
Recognising the futility of the poisoning regimes promoted by some ecologists, some scientists have taken a more holistic approach to the issue. Professor Chris Johnson, from James Cook University, has argued in favour of reintroducing Dingos, Quolls and the Devils to the various mainland ecosystems that humans have eradicated them from. Professor Johnson has stressed that native predator communities need to be rebuilt because they have the ability to remain in balance with native prey. As native predators replace the feral predators, or reduce their numbers, native prey is able to rebound.
Contrary to stereotypes, the cat fares poorly when compared to native predators. It has very weak jaws and very little endurance. Furthermore, whereas the pouch allows marsupial predators to be very mobile with their young, the cat is forced to leave their kittens unprotected as it goes to hunt…

Rather than being a fearsome predator that must be exterminated with poison bombs, it turns out that on net balance, feral cats greatly help to hold down the rodent and rabbit populations.
So take your pick: if you eliminate the ferals, the rabbit popultion goes from a few thousand to 130,000. No doubt the rat and mouse populations will also explode. Question: is it worth it?

Reply to  dbstealey
April 19, 2016 1:30 am

dbstealey Did you not know that cats spread a disease that make ewes abort so reduces the farmers income. You really haven’t had much to do with trapping or anything to do with eradicating an invasive species. You just sit in your cosy little hobbit town and think everything is cosy.

Reply to  mikerestin
April 19, 2016 10:02 am

mikebartnz says:
…cats spread a disease that make ewes abort…
If that’s the best argument you’ve got, you lose the debate. And enough with your deflecting. I’ve asked some pointed questions, but you’ve avoided answering even one of them.
Anyone who aligns himself with this “ecologist” nonsense of trying to kill off an apex predator with indiscriminate poisoning simply does not understand the situation. That’s where your name calling comes from: frustration that you have no good arguments, only personal anecdotes about cats that eat all the local birds but leave the sparrows alone. As if.
You can run around in circles like Chicken Little, clucking about a minor problem. Or, you could listen to the farmers who are directly affected. They do not want feral cats exterminated. I provided the link. Instead of emitting what amounts to another baseless opinion, maybe you could read it and learn something.

Reply to  Marcus
April 17, 2016 2:38 pm

They are wild cats and have to be caught to do that so it shows how little you understand the issue.

Reply to  mikebartnz
April 17, 2016 2:52 pm

There is probably no easier animal to catch than a feral cat. A humane cage that trips closed, covered by a towel or blanket. Put smelly food (mackerel, etc.) nearby every night. Move it closer to the cage every day for a few days. Then into the cage.
The feral cat will be in the cage within a few days. Take to the local Humane Society for the TNR treatment. Release where it was found. Problem solved.
Or, if you’re a psychotic hater like this reprobate, poison them. Then other cats will just move into the vacant territory.
TNR is the only thing that works at all. It’s not perfect. But like the climate scare, the feral cat ‘problem’ is very minor. It is nothing like the introduction of rabbits into Australia. Cats eat the old, the diseased, the crippled, and the slow rodents and birds. Rabbits eat everything that grows. Big difference.

Reply to  dbstealey
April 17, 2016 5:45 pm

dbstealey Quote *Cats eat the old, the diseased, the crippled, and the slow rodents and birds.* Absolute rubbish. That is like the people that say “my little Moggy never kills birds” and five minutes later you see one in its mouth.

Reply to  mikebartnz
April 17, 2016 8:15 pm

mikebarntz says:
dbstealey Quote *Cats eat the old, the diseased, the crippled, and the slow rodents and birds.* Absolute rubbish.
So, you think they don’t?
Nothing more to discuss. Because on your planet, cats leave the old and sick rodents alone.
But here on Planet Earth, Charles Darwin showed that’s exactly what happens. He called it “survival of the fittest.” You could even look it up.

Reply to  dbstealey
April 17, 2016 11:45 pm

Of course they will eat the old and diseased but you were saying that was *all* they would eat which is absolute rubbish.

Reply to  mikebartnz
April 18, 2016 12:48 am

Once again: Exactly where did I ever say that’s “all” they eat??
Quote my words, verbatim. Otherwise, someone might suspect that since you lost the debate, you’re trying to re-frame it.

Reply to  dbstealey
April 18, 2016 1:26 am

dbstealey Quote *Cats eat the old, the diseased, the crippled, and the slow rodents and birds. Rabbits eat everything that grows.*
If you had put *mainly eat* in that sentence it would of had a different meaning.
What are you a little narcissist adding *Otherwise, someone might suspect that since you lost the debate, you’re trying to re-frame it.*

Reply to  mikebartnz
April 18, 2016 8:43 am

So once again you cannot bring yourself to quote me verbatim. You cannot show where I said “all”.
You lost the debate, so you’re still trying to re-frame it to avoid admitting that fact.
And you won’t even comment on ‘survival of the fittest’, which was my central point. All you can do is call me “a little narcissist”.
That may or may not be. But you still lost the argument.

Reply to  dbstealey
April 18, 2016 2:11 pm

dbstealey I did quote you verbatim. You did not have all in there but like I said you didn’t put *mainly* in there which would have altered the whole meaning of what you said..
Once again you had to put *You lost the debate* which only confirms for me what I said earlier.

Reply to  mikebartnz
April 18, 2016 3:12 pm

mikebartnz says:
I did quote you verbatim.
Really? I must have missed that. Try again, this time by cutting and pasting my words. You know, the way I do it with you and others.
You accused me of saying “all”. Where did I say that? Cut ‘n’ paste it. If you can, I’ll concede the argument. You win.
But if you can’t, you lose the debate.

Reply to  dbstealey
April 18, 2016 5:39 pm

I did cut and paste you idiot. I really can’t be bothered with the likes of you so good bye.

Reply to  mikebartnz
April 17, 2016 8:38 pm

Had a good belly laugh here.
‘easy to catch,’
“Move it closer to the cage every day for a few days. Then into the cage.”
“Take to the local Humane Society for the SNR treatment.”
“ Release where it was found.”
Do you realise how large Oz is? Now multiply that by 10^23 to understand the issue for small native wildlife cos you really have no idea about the Oz outback. Bring it to the local vet!! That would be hundreds of miles away. The vet is of course just waiting for your catch of the week.
Right, done my good deed for nature now let’s try catch another of the few million remaining nice, gentle, purring pussies.

Reply to  mikebartnz
April 17, 2016 11:33 pm

Nice strawman you erected there. The issue is about an “ecologist” wanting to poison cats.
But since you seem to prefer having millions of rabbits eating everything in sight, I can understand your point of view…
But thanx for the belly laff.

Reply to  mikebartnz
April 18, 2016 1:39 am

To talk about ecology you have to first understand it and the overall context of the interaction. In the Oz context you clearly do not understand it.
Our broad range of small marsupials are not like possums or US squirrels which can proliferate in city environs. We are talking about the Oz outback something which you show little knowledge. Your idea of merciful spaying predators and gently reintroducing them at the same site is too ludicrous to comment further; cats are an introduced species. Your solution is not even a road to nowhere if there is a native population under threat of extinction.
Rabbits, also an introduced species, don’t eat native animals even though they would interfere with any shared burrowing. Rabbits don’t prevent the extinction of threatened native animals. Further all Oz native wildlife has evolved in the absence of major predators with little evolved defensive capability against feral cats.
To take this a step further, rabbits have been subjected to introduction of specific viruses which devastate the population such that even this would exacerbate the demise of the threatened native small fauna from feral cats when left with less food sources.
Neither Oz nor the ecologist in question is interested in preserving an introduced species gone feral at the expense of the diversity of native fauna but particularly a threatened species like the “enigmatic night parrot, a nocturnal parrot from central Australia that many thought was extinct until the 1990s. “

Reply to  tonyM
April 18, 2016 12:54 pm

tonyM says:
Neither Oz nor the ecologist in question is interested in preserving an introduced species gone feral at the expense of the diversity of native fauna…
Nor am I. As I pointed out before, you’re setting up a strawman, and arguing with it.
The difference is in the approach. Indiscriminate poisoning is an über-stupid idea. There are bettter ways to address the problem.

Reply to  mikebartnz
April 18, 2016 10:35 am

mikebartnz: “That is like the people that say “my little Moggy never kills birds” and five minutes later you see one in its mouth.”
This considerably less emotional piece from real experts would appear to contradict you.
Estimates of how many creatures are killed by cats each year vary significantly.
The most recent figures are from the Mammal Society, which estimates that the UK’s cats catch up to 275 million prey items a year, of which 55 million are birds. This is the number of prey items that were known to have been caught; we don’t know how many more the cats caught, but didn’t bring home, or how many escaped but subsequently died.
The most frequently caught birds, according to the Mammal Society, are probably (in order) house sparrows, blue tits, blackbirds and starlings.
No evidence
Despite the large numbers of birds killed, there is no scientific evidence that predation by cats in gardens is having any impact on bird populations UK-wide. This may be surprising, but many millions of birds die naturally every year, mainly through starvation, disease, or other forms of predation. There is evidence that cats tend to take weak or sickly birds.
It is likely that most of the birds killed by cats would have died anyway from other causes before the next breeding season.

We also know that of the millions of baby birds hatched each year, most will die before they reach breeding age. This is also quite natural, and each pair needs only to rear two young that survive to breeding age to replace themselves and maintain the population.
It is likely that most of the birds killed by cats would have died anyway from other causes before the next breeding season, so cats are unlikely to have a major impact on populations. If their predation was additional to these other causes of mortality, this might have a serious impact on bird populations.
Personally, I prefer to believe authorities such as the Mammal Society and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds than someone who is clearly heavily biased against and appears to enjoy killing cats for the sake of it.

James Fosser
Reply to  Marcus
April 17, 2016 3:11 pm

How on Earth can it be logical to hunt down the hundreds of thousands of these feral cats to spade and neuter them and then release them to carry on their killing? If they are caught in the first place, isnt it more humane to then give every Australian catless granny one each (or more)?

Reply to  James Fosser
April 17, 2016 5:10 pm

You have not a clue as to the diet of feral cats ,do you seriously believe that the only things they eat are old and crippled ? Just think about it ,last estimate I heard feral cats numbered past the million here in oz but they only kill the weak and crippled according to you and they are easy to catch . Again using emotion over logic won’t win an argument that’s why we are here in the first place .

Reply to  James Fosser
April 17, 2016 5:36 pm

My granny is quite taken with the idea of someone giving her one, although she may have misunderstood what I was saying.

Reply to  James Fosser
April 17, 2016 7:04 pm

Are there no Owls, eagles and Hawks in Australia? No Dingos? In the great deserts of the American west you don’t see extravagant numbers of feral cats because those sort of predators do a pretty thorough job on them. Seems to me that the only place it makes sense that feral cats can thrive is close enough to humans to make humane trapping pretty effective. Spay them, dispose of them humanely, or shoot them with shotguns which ever you can afford or prefer. Robots dispensing poison? Is he out of his mind?

Reply to  James Fosser
April 17, 2016 8:08 pm

Robert says:
You have not a clue as to the diet of feral cats…
And how would you know what I might have a “clue” about? I read constantly, and I worked in our local Humane Society shelter for several years. So I probably have more of a “clue” about this issue than you do.
…do you seriously believe that the only things they eat are old and crippled ?
Where did I say “only”. Nice strawman, but it fails.
And I suggest you read Darwin; re: survival of the fittest.
Or maybe you believe kitty leaves the old, crippled and sick rodents alone, and goes after the healthiest, fastest ones? Is that what you’re arguing?
This site occasionally attracts irrational, emotional commenters. Try to up your game, you’re embarassing yourself.
And yes, ferals are very easy to catch. I’ve caught many more ferals than you’ve probably ever seen. Just because you know how to spell ‘logic’ doesn’t mean there’s any in your comments.
Finally, in Australia — where we’re talking about — rabbits and rats make up a big part of feral cats’ diets. Since rabbits and rats are hugely more destructive than cats, do the math… if you can.

Reply to  James Fosser
April 17, 2016 10:40 pm

“Spay” not “spade”. For the second time. (Maybe past tense “spayed” has thrown you off?)
Hey, they can catch those feral cats and send them to a “cat sanctuary” city like Sparks, NV, where cat huggers have convinced the city to stop euthanizing feral cats and instead release into them into designated feral colonies “managed” by volunteer cat huggers. This despite the pleading of the city attorney who cited much evidence that concentrations of feral cats pose a public health hazard. The neighbors of these feral colonies are thrilled, as are the local Audubon members.
I happen to love cats, and always have one living with me, but like all good things, they need to be enjoyed responsibly and not allowed to thrive and reproduce feral in polite society.

Reply to  James Fosser
April 17, 2016 11:38 pm

There has not been one credible argument to support this article. Those in agreement are giving their opinions, nothing more. No facts, just opinions.
And ESPECIALLY in Australia, feral cats — which have a heavy diet of rabbits and rats — are a net benefit.
Some folks just don’t like cats. So they invent opinions about why we should poison them. But none of those arguments holds water.

Mike T
Reply to  dbstealey
April 18, 2016 5:04 am

“Net benefit”? You obviously know next-to-nothing about the Australian outback. Species like the bilby, numbat and the night parrot had ranges vastly greater than their present ranges. Rabbits can be controlled without resorting to cats. I am a fan of cats and have had many in the past (I don’t have one now because I have two dozen parrots) but I loathe the feral variety and would happily see the entire continent rid of the things, with controls on domestic cats so that the feral population isn’t re-established.

Reply to  James Fosser
April 18, 2016 3:00 am

Feral cats. Delicious.

Reply to  James Fosser
April 18, 2016 6:52 am

I’m very fond of non-indigenous Australians, but they are an invasive species and they do a lot of environmental damage, so perhaps the most humane green solution would be to poison the lot of them and hand back the ecological stewardship of the place to the Aborigines.

Reply to  James Fosser
April 18, 2016 10:38 am

dbstealey: “Some folks just don’t like cats. So they invent opinions about why we should poison them. But none of those arguments holds water.”
Very true.
Some people simply have an irrational hatred of cats, possibly due the the cat’s innate superiority to the majority of humans.

Reply to  James Fosser
April 19, 2016 8:21 pm

Tim Groves,
It’s hard to argue with your impeccable logic. ☺

Reply to  Marcus
April 17, 2016 4:20 pm

First, catch your cat. That’s the hard bit.

Reply to  CarbonFarmerDave
April 17, 2016 8:11 pm

Not really. It’s pretty easy. I’ve done it dozens of times.

Reply to  CarbonFarmerDave
April 17, 2016 10:44 pm

I’ve captured many feral cats in my back yard in traps and taken them to the county animal control center. They’re always hungry and can be attracted into a trap with an open can of wet cat food.

Reply to  CarbonFarmerDave
April 17, 2016 11:40 pm

brian356 is right here. Feral cats are simple to catch. They’re always hungry.

Reply to  Marcus
April 18, 2016 12:39 am

Australia has between 4 and 25 million feral cats spread throughout the country, from alps to deserts.
Even if the true number is towards the lower end of the range that’s a lot of neutering.
In addition, neutered or not, cats eat and eat a lot including a lot of endangered species.
An unintended consequence of reducing rabbit numbers [another unwanted immigrant] is that cats take more native mammals.
It’s never simple

Reply to  GregK
April 18, 2016 12:44 am

Australia has between 4 and 25 million feral cats …

Reply to  GregK
April 18, 2016 3:03 am

Another unwanted immigrant? “Let them stay.”

Ben of Houston
Reply to  Marcus
April 18, 2016 5:38 am

I don’t know Australia laws, but in America, any animal classified as vermin can be killed at anytime by anyone for any reason. You shoot a robin, it’s a federal crime. Poison ten thousand grackles, and you are a local hero.

Reply to  Marcus
April 18, 2016 6:39 am

In Canada you spay and neutrer the feral cats?

Barry Fortier
Reply to  Reality check
April 18, 2016 6:12 pm

Yes, it works quite well.

Bloke down the pub
April 17, 2016 11:00 am

At least it’s not armed with an Uzi.

Reply to  Bloke down the pub
April 17, 2016 2:35 pm


Dodgy Geezer
Reply to  Bloke down the pub
April 17, 2016 2:54 pm

…At least it’s not armed with an Uzi….

Dodgy Geezer
Reply to  Dodgy Geezer
April 17, 2016 2:54 pm


Mike McMillan
Reply to  Dodgy Geezer
April 17, 2016 10:25 pm

A cat would never hunt with an Uzi. No sport in it.

Reply to  Bloke down the pub
April 17, 2016 7:13 pm

As mm

April 17, 2016 11:03 am

And if the cat pisses back…..?

Steve Case
April 17, 2016 11:08 am

What could possibly go wrong?

Reply to  Steve Case
April 17, 2016 11:12 am

A catastrophe no doubt

Reply to  birdynumnum
April 19, 2016 8:22 pm


Joel O’Bryan
Reply to  Steve Case
April 17, 2016 11:55 am

dingos that eat the poisoned cat and then also dies. or buzzards (do they have buzzards downunder, can they fly inverted?)

Reply to  Joel O’Bryan
April 17, 2016 1:34 pm

First thing that crossed my mind.

Greg Cavanagh
Reply to  Joel O’Bryan
April 17, 2016 2:41 pm

Not buzzards as such, small hawks and eagles, but mostly crows. Millions of crows.
Most carrion eaters don’t eat poisoned or sick animals. Unless the poison is entirely tasteless and odourless it’s unlikely.

Reply to  Joel O’Bryan
April 17, 2016 5:20 pm

Yup yup. That ecologist is ignoring the food chain. Dingoes and quolls are scavengers that eat even road kill. And what about young dingoes? Don’t dingoes pass through cat-size on their way to full-grown size?

Reply to  Joel O’Bryan
April 18, 2016 5:20 am

Dingos would be unlikely to eat the dead cats, crows and the odd hawk might be at risk it they scavenge
though crows are pretty damn cluey re poisons
any feral cats in my yard get removed permanently by my dogs,
mangy and crook a lot of the time,
some years back I ran a petshop and bred guineapigs rabbits(devonrex) and birds for sale
we were blaming foxes for the killings occurring
so we put some traps out
EVERY critter we caught over 6 of them…were?
yeah the supposedly fat lazy nonroaming neighbours kitties
they were presented with kitty dearest AND a hefty bill!
Id suggest most of the dosed cats would retire to their dens and with luck die there to fertilise the tree theyre often under the roots of in old bunny holes, maybe exbunny dinner type holes:-)
Rabbits do damage you wouldnt imagine if you havent seen it,
apart from eating stock and native critters grazing they ringbark trees, undermine buildings, and cause broken legs on grazing animals like cows and horses.
IF feral cats ONLY ate feral rabbits/sparrows or starlings it wouldnt be so bad
they dont however.
releasing a spayed cat back is the height of insanity!
catch it, no tags? euthanase it.
and homed cats carry diseases that can seriously ruin your day/life/
the high alzheimers in UK HAS been linked to it quite possibly being Toxoplasmosis induced in many people, NOT the avg dementias.
and I?
had my entire life pretty much ruined and reset to disabled ongoing due to bloody cat scratch fever!
Bartonella Hensellae.
all because I groomed /shaved someones furry moggy one hot summer, to help the cat with matted fur and heat stress.

April 17, 2016 11:29 am

That can’t possibly go awry in some futuristic scenario…

April 17, 2016 11:36 am

I can see PETA people in the Outback now, disguising themselves with Arnold Schwarzenegger masks: ‘come with me if you want to live.’

Reply to  ClimateOtter
April 17, 2016 11:52 am

No the PETA people kill animals themselves–few know that–they probably fiananced this guy.

Reply to  Shelly Marshall
April 17, 2016 12:07 pm

Well it was just a terminator joke 😛
But yes, I am one who knows they kill quite a bit themselves- and I wouldn’t be surprised if they not only financed him, but would be the ones to let these things loose in the midst of cities.

April 17, 2016 11:36 am

Cats are being exterminated at several small islands and the results for endangered species are very good.
Already Isaac Asimov in one of his Robot books had the idea of developing small flying robots capable of hunting mosquitoes from a specific species.
It is our fault that those feral cats are there exterminating species so it is a good thing that we can fix it. The poison is harmless to any animal that doesn’t lick, and very specifically directed to animals of the right size.
If done by an expert in robotics it should be able to recognize a cat with a camera and a proper algorithm and image processing capability.

Reply to  Javier
April 17, 2016 11:38 am

I have no problems with this as we have a great many species of birds around here and lots of barn cats, BUT: I could easily see someone setting a few of these loose inside cities / suburbs. And some of it just for the fun of it.

Reply to  Javier
April 17, 2016 12:39 pm

How does it distinguish between someone’s pet cat who is wandering and a true feral cat?
And non-feral cats will kill small prey. My cat is an indoor/outdoor cat and he has brought me several dead birds, but I have also found several several dead birds around the yard. We need to remember why cats were domesticated: it was because they like to eat rats and rats like to eat our food supplies. Even today, some ships keep a cat on board just for that reason. They were domesticated because they kill small prey. Even if we rid the world of all feral cats, we won’t be able to rid the world of pet cats and thus there will always be a problem with cats eating endangered animals.

Reply to  alexwade
April 17, 2016 4:11 pm

Hopefully Logic will put the traps well into the bush well out of harms way for domestic cats .

Reply to  alexwade
April 17, 2016 4:28 pm

<blockquotealexwade April 17, 2016 at 12:39 pm
Even if we rid the world of all feral cats, we won’t be able to rid the world of pet cats and thus there will always be a problem with cats eating endangered animals…. downundcer, that’s where most of the feral cats come from;-)

Reply to  alexwade
April 17, 2016 8:18 pm

Excellent point. I think some commenters are just cat haters, looking for any excuse…
I don’t think rabbits — a major food source for ferals — are an endangered species in Oz or anywhere else.

Reply to  alexwade
April 17, 2016 10:53 pm

“we won’t be able to rid the world of pet cats and thus there will always be a problem with cats eating endangered animals”
Uh, only those pet cats allowed to roam outdoors freely. Responsible owners keep them indoors. Somewhat less responsible ones declaw them so they have much harder time capturing birds. Some actually walk their cats with a harness and leash like a dog, cats introduced to this at a young age do not object. I used to believe pet cats should roam, but after losing too many to automobiles and coyotes, even wandering domestic dogs, I’ve stopped letting my cat roam free.

Reply to  alexwade
April 17, 2016 11:46 pm

Agree w/brian356. However, most cat owners have their pets fixed, so overpopulation is not an issue.
And declawing is animal abuse. IMO it should be outlawed. It’s like pulling a dog’s teeth.
If you can’t clip your cat’s claws every other week, you’re too lazy to have a pet. Start ’em young and it’s easy, takes about one minute or less.
Right about the harness, too. But keeping them inside is best.

Reply to  alexwade
April 18, 2016 12:40 am

Tire’s no difference

Reply to  alexwade
April 18, 2016 12:41 am

That should be………..ecologically there’s no difference

Reply to  alexwade
April 18, 2016 5:23 am

your PET cat…
should NOT BE ROAMING outside YOUR home boundary!
a large enclosed playpen in your yard is the equivalent of dog owners having fences to restrain THEIR pets.
we do it
so should you.

Reply to  alexwade
April 18, 2016 6:42 am

In parts of the US, a wandering cat IS a feral cat. Cats do NOT belong outside.

Reply to  Javier
April 17, 2016 1:56 pm

Javier says:
… the results for endangered species are very good.
Then he suggests…
…developing small flying robots capable of hunting mosquitoes…
So Javier wants to decide which species should be saved from extermination?
That’s the problem with these “solutions”. They create a cascade of new problems. Sort of like exterminating Saddam Hussein, and thinking that will make the Middle East settle down.

Reply to  dbstealey
April 18, 2016 8:06 am

Your simple approach to science makes you take the wrong approach both on climate and ecology.
Feral cats have already been eradicated from 83 islands. I bet you had no idea when you talk about Saddam Hussein, a great example for ecology.
Eradication of feral cats can have some negative ecosystem impacts, but the conservation impacts are generally positive. That is why so much money is being expended on it.
Campbell, K. J., et al. “Review of feral cat eradications on islands.” Veitch, CR; Clout, MN and Towns, DR (eds.) (2011): 37-46.
It is not only feral cats, but rats, goats, or rabbits, when acting as invasive species need to be eradicated. We are responsible for putting them there and we are responsible for taking them out.
So you are asking absurd questions when you say I should chose between cats and rats. That is a false dichotomy very revealing of fallacious argumentation. Both need to be removed when acting as invasive species.
Jones, Holly P., et al. “Invasive mammal eradication on islands results in substantial conservation gains.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 113.15 (2016): 4033-4038.
Read and learn.

Reply to  dbstealey
April 18, 2016 9:15 am

Catching up on your comments towards me in this convenient place:
Where did I ever say I support this robo-poisoning idea in Australia? Also, I mentioned what some cat owners do (responsible and less-responsible ones) but never did I say I would declaw a pet cat, nor did I say or imply that any pet cat should not be neutered. (Tacit exception for breeding in captivity,) If I missed any other insinuations, I deny them as well. 😉 Drop that broad brush, and please read twice before pouncing.

Reply to  dbstealey
April 18, 2016 12:44 pm

I was agreeing with you. Sorry I wasn’t more clear.

Reply to  dbstealey
April 18, 2016 12:48 pm

javier says:
So you are asking absurd questions when you say I should chose between cats and rats.
What’s absurd about it? That’s one very clear choice. If you eliminate the predator, what happens?
Rats proliferate, and rats are much more destructive than feral cats.
It’s even easier to trump your arguments here than your man-made global warming arguments.

Reply to  Javier
April 17, 2016 2:03 pm

“The poison is harmless to animals that don’t lick.”
So, it’s going to kill everything. Including things that even “lick” the dead cats. Does this poison have an effect on the critters that develop on the corpses of dead things…blowflies, maggots, worms….? You know….The things BIRDS like to eat?
The logic. It burns.

Reply to  Aphan
April 18, 2016 8:30 am

So you think that the type of poison and the dose cannot be properly determined, and that the assays before putting the machine in place do not allow to determine the level of risk to other species?
Obviously the machine has been developed by someone with a lot more knowledge of the issues involved that the average WUWT reader.

Dodgy Geezer
Reply to  Javier
April 17, 2016 2:12 pm

So long as it’s done by an expert nothing can possibly go wrong…..

Tassy Devil
Reply to  Dodgy Geezer
April 17, 2016 2:31 pm

Go rong…. go rong….. go rong….

Reply to  Javier
April 17, 2016 2:30 pm

I have no problem with this, but need to know how to reprogram it to take out a heavy infestation of eco-loons, an invasive species that is causing much disruption to Australian life.

Reply to  Javier
April 17, 2016 9:42 pm


Cats are being exterminated at several small islands and the results for endangered species are very good.

Really? Which islands? Details, please.
When cats were eradicated from New Zealand’s Little Barrier Island in the 1980s, the breeding success of the endangered Cook’s petrel plummeted from 32% down to 9% per burrow. Rats are much more efficient egg eaters than cats, and cats had been keeping rat numbers down.
When rats were finally eradicated in 2005, petrel breeding success jumped to 59%. So it looks like cats were complicit in reducing the petrel population. But if cats not been introduced in the 1800s, rats would almost certainly have extirpated the Cook’s petrel on Little Barrier Island long ago.
I recall when the biggest threat in Australia was rabbits. Feral cats love to eat baby rabbits. This article is really about some creep who wants to profit from killing cats.

Reply to  verdeviewer
April 17, 2016 11:50 pm

Good comment, thanks for posting.
Javier, take your pick, what do you want? Rats? Or cats?
Rats cause immense damage by comparison to feral cats. They get into tree holes and burrows that cats can’t, and eat the fledgelings. Rats are far more a problem than feral cats.

Mike T
Reply to  dbstealey
April 18, 2016 4:41 am

The story specifically refers to cats. Rats are irrelevant to discussion on saving the Night Parrot. Rats are, of course, a huge problem on islands, and having lived on a few myself, have seen the efforts made to eradicate them in an effort to save endangered endemic species.

wayne Job
Reply to  verdeviewer
April 18, 2016 5:38 am

The idiot Poms [English] released in Oz a plethora of invasive things, that have been a headache ever since.
Rabbits, foxes,sparrows, starlings, hares, blackberries, scotch thistles to name but a few, in England ok ,but with our climate they all go feral. The odd few feral pussies is only a bother to the greenies. Most Aussie blokes are a tad feral and a lot of our girls ,so we take it all with a pinch of salt.

Reply to  verdeviewer
April 18, 2016 6:43 am

One predator at a time.

Reply to  verdeviewer
April 18, 2016 8:32 am

Really? Which islands? Details, please.

Campbell, K. J., et al. “Review of feral cat eradications on islands.” Veitch, CR; Clout, MN and Towns, DR (eds.) (2011): 37-46.

Reply to  verdeviewer
April 18, 2016 1:11 pm

MikeT says:
Rats are irrelevant to discussion on saving the Night Parrot.
It’s either rats and parrots, or neither. You pick.

Reply to  verdeviewer
April 18, 2016 7:55 pm

We’d like to keep our indigenous rats thanks, Rattus fuscipes is particularly nice, te Hydromys chrysogaster is a carnivorous rat which has been found to eat cane toads – they’re pretty good too. There are others.. the Lesser Stick Nest Rat (Leporillus apicalis), a desert dwelling rat has probably been rendered extinct due to cat predation. We have loads of native rats and altogether too many cats.
Let me put it simply, the US has predators which probably discourage cats from straying too far from humans. Australia has Wedge Tailed Eagles and specifically in the Island State of Tasmania, a few small populations of Tasmanian Devils. Dingoes are rare and really only predators in remote areas which generally feed on small animals (I’m certain they’d be wary of cats) The rest of the country is just a wide open catfood buffet to moggies which have adapted to all climates, from desert to rain forest. I’ve even seen them in the great Sandy Desert..
Another thing is a lot of Australia is covered in scrubland rather than grassland, with plenty of cover for cats. These are not cats that have wandered from home, these are cats that probably haven’t seen a human in 10 generations. They are ferocious and I’d rather take on a dingo, fox or dog in a trap than a cat.

Reply to  Javier
April 18, 2016 3:12 am

Our fault? Who’s this “our” Kimosabe?

April 17, 2016 11:40 am

Can it be re- programmed to spray windmills? Or even better, Gavin Schmidts leg, thus targeting Michael Mann…

Reply to  Mark
April 17, 2016 4:10 pm


Adam from Kansas
April 17, 2016 11:45 am

In this country, some organizations practice a technique called “trap, spay/neuter, release”. It’s a humane way of reducing the stray cat population that has actually worked very well in some instances (cat populations see a major reduction as a result of the massive drop in the reproduction rate.
As for this cat cull, I wonder if they considered the potential increase in the rabbit population if the cats are killed off (since Australia considers them a pest as well). The law of unintended consequences can be a pain to deal with if you let it happen.

Reply to  Adam from Kansas
April 17, 2016 12:30 pm

And that is a good idea, but it doesn’t actually reduce the cat population, does it? It just stops it growing. Personally, I think the robot trap is a bit extreme, but it’s about the best idea I’ve seen for actually reducing the population relatively humanely.

Reply to  dickon66
April 17, 2016 1:07 pm

Cats may have 9 lives but they are not immortal. If you reduce the reproductive rate you reduce the population.

Reply to  dickon66
April 17, 2016 1:17 pm

Problem critters used to be controlled by combining boys and 22’s. 40 grains of lead between the shoulder blades is about as humane as it gets.

Greg Cavanagh
Reply to  dickon66
April 17, 2016 2:50 pm

Traps have been the age old staple thus far. If the wrong animal gets trapped, you release it, no harm done.
This auto-poisoning device just seems wrong on so many levels.

Reply to  dickon66
April 17, 2016 4:42 pm

A feral cat has a life expectancy of about five years. If you were to spay every female, the popluation would drop about twenty-percent each year, until there were no more feral cats five years later. Obviously, you can’t get all of them spayed that quickly, but any SNR program will begin reducing populations very quickly.

Reply to  dickon66
April 18, 2016 6:48 am

Greg- Say we reduce the reproduction rate of 500 cats by 50%. We’ll give it a 50-50 split on the still fertile females left, so 250 cats having 5 to 8 kittens per year with 50% survival increases the population by 6.5 times 250 or 1,625 in one year. That’s a bit higher than the 50% reduction rate achieved by spaying.

Reply to  Adam from Kansas
April 17, 2016 2:08 pm

Spay/Neuter/Release (SNR) is the only technique that works.
I volunteered at the local Humane Society for several years. Learned a lot. Cats are very territorial. If you remove one from its territory, others will move in and take it over. What good is that?
With SNR they fix the cat so it can’t breed. That stops the cycle; the population begins to decline. The feral cat gets shots, a flea treatment, and has its ear tip clipped so people can see it’s been through the SNR program.
Then it’s released back into its former territory. The cat keeps other cats out, and the breeding cycle is stopped. It is the only thing that works.
We’ve had a feral cat in our yard for the past eight years. It’s very friendly, but it stays outside. It’s been through SNR. We feed it cheap cat food ($10 for a 20 pound bag) that lasts for several months.
It rarely catches a bird, maybe two or three a year, and they’re probably the old, sick and weak. Darwin in action. The bird population is healthier as a result.
I used to have dogs. When one was hit by a car I grieved for a while. Then a friend gave me a kitten. I didn’t want it.
As it turned out, that was one of the world’s greatest cats ever (IMHO). Since my job took me all over the country, I immediately saw the advantage of having a cat. You have to be there every day for a dog. Cats are different. Leave enough food and water and a litter box, and they’re fine for several days. They may not like it, but they’re the pet. That’s their job. And they don’t complain.

Dodgy Geezer
Reply to  dbstealey
April 17, 2016 2:14 pm

…They may not like it, but they’re the pet. That’s their job. And they don’t complain….,
Have you checked the condition of your soft furnishings recently…?

Reply to  dbstealey
April 17, 2016 3:03 pm

I haven’t personally had any problems like that, but I’ve heard of some folks who have. Life’s always a trade-off, no?
But really, thie issue here is this animal hater trying to poison cats. Did “ecologist” John Read never even consider the fact that rabbits are a primary food source for feral cats in Australia? And that rabbits do millions of times more damage?

Reply to  dbstealey
April 17, 2016 7:35 pm

db….I grew up and have lived rurally most my life. We have always had a Mama cat and kittens from time to time. To have 4 or five “barn cats” pretty typical but Owls, Hawks, Coyotes in general will reduce the cat presence about at the same rate that a mama will produce them. If you didn’t have such cats the field mice and sand rats would carry away the ranch especially if you have stored hay. We’ve fed ours a bit of kibble and some milk to keep them among the buildings doing their job on the mice. I know from experience that other ranchers will adopt from you when you’ve got a good hunting mama that has taught her kids what those mice are all about. We have arrangements with the local vet to spay or neuter such adoptees and the whole business sort or operates as a little ecosystem that doesn’t require poison to kill the rodents.

Reply to  dbstealey
April 17, 2016 8:24 pm

There’s a lot of common sense in your comment.
I have yet to see a credible argument for indiscriminately poisioning feral cats. They do very little damage compared to rodents and rabbits. It’s like killing a spider and then complaining about flies.

Reply to  dbstealey
April 18, 2016 5:14 am

I live in Western Australia, which is 2,529,875 square kilometres (976,790 sq mi) in area with a population of 2.6 million people, with a little over 2 million living in the capital. Perth is considered to be 6000 square kilometers.. leaving 600,000 people living across the remaining 2.5+ million kilometers.
here’s a picture of a cat with a galah,
There are varying estimates of cat population density across the state, but these can only be rough since cats ave been found in areas very few people frequent. One populated area, the isolated Rottnest Island had ongoing cat problems since the 1960’s with cats killing lethal tiger and brown snakes, other small vertibrates notably a small kangaroo like marsupial called a quokka – when they finally trapped the cats they found a mere 4 cats had been doing all the damage. Population numbers of native species have risen since then
Control of feral cats is recognised as one of the most
important fauna conservation issues in Australia today
and as a result, a national ‘Threat Abatement Plan (TAP)
for Predation by Feral Cats’ has been developed (EA
1999; DEWHA 2008). Under the TAP the goal is to protect
affected native species and ecological communities, and
to prevent further species and ecological communities
from becoming threatened. In particular, the first
objective of the TAP is to: – prevent feral cats from
occupying new areas in Australia and eradicate feral cats
from high-conservation-value ‘islands

Mary Catherine
Reply to  Adam from Kansas
April 17, 2016 3:39 pm

Yes, those rabbits are an unintended consequence, aren’t they?

Patrick MJD
Reply to  Adam from Kansas
April 17, 2016 9:34 pm

As long as Australians do not do what New Zealanders tried, and failed, to do some years ago. They made a “cocktail” of rabbit meat infected with myxomatosis and spread about areas of land infested with rabbits. It was a spectacular failure.
Australia has problems with mice, rats, rabbits and cats. No amount of robotics with fix that problem.

Reply to  Adam from Kansas
April 18, 2016 5:28 am

we release calici virus as well as myxo and bait the bunnies also( Rabbait )
as well as shooting/trapping..though thats not so prevalent now
pits with a 44gal drum in it to prevent them climbing jumping out work ok with some lucerne hay as bait:-)
new virus is announced today to be possibly used also
an asian version of calici I gather.

April 17, 2016 11:51 am

Remote activated killing devices such as booby trapped claymores violate the Geneva conventions, as do EIDs because they are indiscriminate. Maybe paying a bounty. Young boys (or, ok, girls) with pellet or .22 rifles and time on their hands. Real life first person shooters. That’s how I handled the rabbits on our acre until the unfortunate deer incident.

Reply to  Nicholas Schroeder
April 17, 2016 12:09 pm

And now you like your coffee rich and creamy?
(sorry, ‘incident’ fit nicely with a screwball Canadian commercial)

Reply to  Nicholas Schroeder
April 17, 2016 12:28 pm

Australia is 7,7 million square kilometers, most of it outback with nary a boy (or girl) with a rifle in sight.
Though cats have become a much greater problem in the inland and the north since aborigines abandoned their traditional hunting life. The aborigines ate quite a lot of cats, which were considered easy hunting since they tend to take to trees when pursued, which is not a good idea when the pursuer has a bow and arrows.

Reply to  tty
April 17, 2016 1:20 pm

Aboriginals, at least the Australian version, never had bows and arrows. They made do with sharpened sticks or throwing sticks.

Reply to  Nicholas Schroeder
April 17, 2016 7:33 pm

OK, now I really want to know. Was ‘The Unfortunate Deer Incident’ unfortunate for you or for the deer?

Martin A
Reply to  Nicholas Schroeder
April 18, 2016 12:59 am

Cats, unlike rabbits, do not die easily. An air rifle (=pellet?) is entirely inadequate for killing cats.

Reply to  Martin A
April 18, 2016 5:34 am

Actually, that would be incorrect. We have had air rifles since the 1780s that were perfectly adequate for taking a deer at close ranges. See the Girandoni air rifle. 20 round capacity, repeater, 22 rounds before muzzle energy starts to break off, and that’s 200 year old technology.
Modern air rifles (particularly the higher caliber units with much higher pressure) can easily take a cat or a rabbit due to the much higher velocity and mass. They are admittedly more expensive, but the energy is the square of the velocity. Many modern units can penetrate 3/4 plywood.

Airguns have even been used to hunt Wildebeest in Africa,

and for sniping Nazi outposts in World War 2, as the ‘Partisan Airgun’
I fear that argument that the airguns are incapable is incorrect.

Reply to  Martin A
April 18, 2016 8:31 pm

petitionandremonstrance .. I’m with you on the generic use of the work ‘airgun’ being used to describe plinking guns – there’s some big bore Gamo’s out there I’d like to try.. but I’d also still be reluctant to use a small caliber on some of the Australian feral cats.
I’m a marksman (Navy and club) and have always prided myself in being as humane as I can with a firearm, head shooting only. The very fist cat I shot was atop a haystack in a barn in Hyden, some 300kilometers East of Perth, and it surprised me, I fired my 22 LR and I thought I’d missed as the cat scampered off – the guy I was with laughed and said ‘told you a 22 wouldn’t do it’.. I only tried a 22 once again from about 10 yards when a trapper friend had a leg trapped cat – no go. bounced right off it’s forehead. Shotgun did the poor thing in. I’ve used a 22.250 other times or at least a 222 but I’ve also had the disturbing experience of seeing another, less caring shooter bodyshoot a cat with a 223 and – well, I wouldn’t do it. As I said, I don’t want anything suffering and while a fox may have been dispatched quickly that way, the cat was not. It made me appreciate just how tough cats could be.

April 17, 2016 12:01 pm

When they came for the cats, I said nothing . . . .

Reply to  Gamecock
April 17, 2016 7:37 pm

Because you were not a cat? >^_^<

Reply to  schitzree
April 17, 2016 11:24 pm

what about human beings

Reply to  Gamecock
April 18, 2016 6:51 am

Because you knew what a problem the cats were, right?

Jane Davies
April 17, 2016 12:09 pm

So this idiot has not thought about the knock on effect in the food chain?

Steve from Rockwood
April 17, 2016 12:29 pm

There was an old lady who killed a cat. Imagine that. She killed a cat. She killed the cat that swallowed the bird that ate the spider that caught the fly. It was a rare fly. Protected. The cat had to die.

Tom Halla
April 17, 2016 12:33 pm

I agree with Nicholas Schroeder that using feral cats for target practice is preferable to poison, but the cat lovers will freak. The other problem with OZ is the restrictions on guns.

Reply to  Tom Halla
April 17, 2016 12:44 pm

I think that dealing with the rabbit population explosion taught Australians what would and wouldn’t work with pest control on this scale, they have quite a bit of experience in these matters.

Patrick MJD
Reply to  Tom Halla
April 17, 2016 10:24 pm

Howard introduced gun laws and restrictions in the 90’s. We now have a situation where there is actually more gun crime being committed here. Strange but true.

Reply to  Patrick MJD
April 18, 2016 5:31 am

yeah…and now theyre blaming reg’d gun owners with legal guns IN lock boxes for being broken into n robbed…
our govts smart alright…
more gun crime than there ever was, cos its damn near impossible to get to yours in a hurry IF you can afford the licence the box and follow the regs.

April 17, 2016 12:45 pm

An ecosystem will eventually sort itself out. The main problem is often our preference for certain species. Dingoes are thought of as a typical Australian species but they were introduced only about 5000 years ago. link
In North America domestic cats are allowed to roam free. I have heard them referred to as subsidized predators and a danger to our song birds. However, in spite of a healthy cat population, we have lots of song birds in my urban neighbourhood. We also have chipmunks, squirrels and bunnies. Cats are, of course, no danger to raccoons (darn).
Is it really really necessary to get rid of feral cats?

Reply to  commieBob
April 17, 2016 1:44 pm

We have coyotes here. The coyote, I guess, problem started for real about twenty or so years ago. Up till then you never heard of coyotes around here. Since then there are no more quail or ground hogs. Coyotes are especially bad around farm livestock. If you don’t keep your livestock up when they deliver calves, whatever, the coyotes will eat the calves.
I know a lady that lost all of her chickens and ducks in one spring and she kept the fowl in coops.
One thing to think about tnough, my brother raises beef cattle. He keeps an old mule with his cattle. The cattle follow the old mule around like he (she’s) the boss. And, the mule thinks he’s (she’s) the boss and will defend the cattle. You’ll go out into a field and sometimes you’ll find a pile of coyote fuzz. A mule will stomp a coyote to death every chance they get.

Reply to  FTM
April 17, 2016 2:17 pm

You’re right about coyotes. They are a true pest, unlike feral cats, which do very little damage overall. Cats just tend to cull the population of the birds and rodents that tend to be the weak, old, and sick.
But coyotes have no redeeming value (except maybe for their skins, which make for very nice coats. But for good skins you have to get the coyotes from very cold areas like Montana and Alaska, in deep winter).
Coyotes have been invading cities over the past several decades. They are vicious and will kill any dogs or domesticated fowl they find. And there is no chance of wiping out the coyote population. They’ve adapted very well to urban environments.

Reply to  FTM
April 17, 2016 2:24 pm

When I was young out west, coyotes wouldn’t go anywhere near human habitation. I only saw them in the wild once when we each came around a hill from the other direction.
I was really surprised to find out that they were arriving down east and would wander quite close to human habitation. I have even heard stories that they enter cities and get pet cats and dogs. I have also heard eco-ninnies complain that coyotes upset nature’s balance by interbreeding with wolves. Whatever happens it’s humanity’s fault.

Reply to  FTM
April 17, 2016 4:44 pm

Here in Colorado coyotes quickly become surburbanized and hence have no fear of humans. Out on the prairie they know that humans = rifles so they practice avoidance. Ranchers show coyotes no mercy but the town dwellers, and there are more of them than ranchers, think we need to try to “understand” the coyote…until their little Fluffy gets eaten–then they (might) get it.

Reply to  FTM
April 17, 2016 6:59 pm

I’m not familiar with your local, but I’m located in eastern Ontario – half hour north of Cornwall. Last Nov, pair of coyotes grabbed our 13.5 lb dog just a few yards from back steps and took off with him, killed him. I do live in middle of rural, heavily forested with farm lands area and they have been a problem for the farmers around here, attacked a cow giving birth at nigh and weren’t easily frightened off. Find them very bold as I see them in day time, trotting across yard, even came in yard to chase wild turkeys that were wandering on by, middle of the day.
Sorry to be so off topic, so to that I disagree with their methods of killing feral cats, good grief they are not thinking this through, not to mention what a cruel way to kill any animal, hardly humane. So many animals live on carrion it’s incredible.
I’ll pass that mule tip onto my neighbour as he’s a cattle and sheep farmer.

Reply to  FTM
April 17, 2016 8:12 pm

Yup, mules are death to Coyotes. They will also stomp wolves. My horses will stomp anything that looks like a coyote/wolf as they are used to coyotes, wolves, foxes, cougars, bears and other predators out where I live. My dogs always run under the fence when they see the horses coming for them. The neighbour’s dogs figured out not to go in my pastures pretty fast. Yes, coyotes will take calves or even a full grown penned up cow. That is the price we pay for living where we do. Coyotes have their place. I had an uncle that used to shoot every coyote he saw on his ranch. Then we spent part of every day shooting gophers. After he stopped shooting all the coyotes, we stopped having to shoot gophers. Correlation. By the way, the food chain is very interesting. Coyotes eat foxes, wolves eat coyotes. When I used to cut hay, there would often be several coyotes following my discbine around eating up the macerated mice. My barn cats do their job and hunt in the hay stack all winter often leaving evidence on the driveway, including a couple of weasels.

Mike the Morlock
April 17, 2016 12:51 pm

Hmmm This “ecologist” John Read may be breaking international law, What he has created has another name, it is called a “landmine” . It does not trap but rather “detonates, yes multiple times, but its intent is the same as a landmine. Yes I know its a stretch, a reach but I am choosing to have “liberal” moment this afternoon.
maniacal laughter

April 17, 2016 12:57 pm

In this neck of the woods, possums are a bigger danger to wildlife than cats and are also an introduced pest species. But has this guy done anything for *us*? Something of this sort would be better than aerial drops of 1080.

Bruce of Newcastle
April 17, 2016 1:00 pm

So it targets cats who kill endangered birds…
Will it work on wind turbines?

Reply to  Bruce of Newcastle
April 17, 2016 2:42 pm


April 17, 2016 1:16 pm

Ever seen how fast a cat can move when it hears a hiss noise ?

Rick C PE
April 17, 2016 1:33 pm

Maybe a better solution would be to live trap the cats and send them to Rome.

Peter Morris
April 17, 2016 1:40 pm

Well, Richard Gatling was technically a doctor. And the guy that invented the bat bomb was a dentist.

Reply to  Peter Morris
April 17, 2016 7:55 pm
first thing I thought of when you mentioned the bat bomb. ^¿^

Gary Hladik
Reply to  schitzree
April 19, 2016 1:35 pm

I remember that episode: “Some days you just can’t get rid of a bomb!” 🙂

April 17, 2016 1:50 pm

Perhaps the true answer is a trap/neuter/release program for ecologists who want to release autonomous poisoning machines into the wild.

John Michelmore
Reply to  Merovign
April 17, 2016 4:16 pm

Yes we know what happened with the cane toad, these robots could create a situation after some evolution into human killing machines!

Reply to  John Michelmore
April 17, 2016 8:23 pm

Where would those robots get their energy from?

April 17, 2016 1:50 pm

The really need to do a proof of concept of this in the sewers of New York City with rats rather than cats. At least in the sewers there is less chance something can go very wrong. It either case the result will be super rats or super cats that will have learned to avoid these robotic predators. The real world case is moths that stop flapping and drop silently to the ground when they sense the chirping of bats.

April 17, 2016 1:52 pm

And, of course, death by poison is fast and painless, isn’t it!

Lewis P Buckingham
April 17, 2016 1:54 pm

This sounds like applied cruelty.
There is no product that can be sprayed on a cat that will humanely kill it.
Permethrins are out, rat killers would be possible, such as warfarin derivatives.
However it is not clear that a lethal dose would be delivered.
Is there any trial data on this.What about non target species?
Having said this the feral cat is the cause of most of the so called species loss in Australia, blamed lamely on ‘Climate Change’.
Attempts to exclude cats in the NT have led to big rises in small marsupial populations, followed by the fences excluding cats being broached and the populations being wiped out.
If all the money spent on closing down efficient coal powered power stations was spent on controlling rabbits, foxes, cats, Mynah birds, feral bees and ants, Australia would revert to an indigenous speciation
in no time.
Green ideology is so focused on ‘saving the planet’, it forgets to start here with the self evident and spend money on the possible.

Tom in Florida
April 17, 2016 1:55 pm

Birds are disgusting creatures that shit on everything. Let the cats roam.

Ian L. McQueen
April 17, 2016 2:40 pm

I remember reading about a sharpshooter hired to eliminate feral cats in Oz. One of them weighed 38 pounds.
Ian M

Reply to  Ian L. McQueen
April 17, 2016 2:45 pm

38 pounds?? Even overfed house cats never get that fat!

Reply to  dbstealey
April 18, 2016 5:38 am

seriously..they DO get rather large
the size of a middling dog isnt uncommon in some rural areas with good food sources and where the largest tom, n queens manage to mate and the genetics go to work
in Whyalla no one walks even with their dogs without a large stick or rake handle, in certain of the fringe areas

Tom in Florida
Reply to  Ian L. McQueen
April 17, 2016 2:48 pm

Pretty small sharpshooter I’d say.

Tom Harley
Reply to  Tom in Florida
April 17, 2016 4:02 pm

Feral cats are everywhere, in this region (Kimberley) most are black, so can’t be seen at night when they hunt. I have seen them as large as any cattle dog. Catching to neuter and spay is out of the question. The idea of poisoning has some merit, as recent laws make all pet cats to be neutered, chipped for ID and kept in at night, because of the damage they do.
Nobody here has suggested a suitable alternative, yet, but I haven’t read all the comments yet.

Reply to  Tom in Florida
April 17, 2016 5:45 pm

recent laws make all pet cats to be neutered, chipped for ID
Pity it doesn’t apply to their owners.

Reply to  Tom in Florida
April 17, 2016 7:13 pm

Pygmy sharp shooters, – the right people for the right job.

Martin A
Reply to  Ian L. McQueen
April 18, 2016 1:05 am

Only 38 pounds? That’s quite a skinny sharpshooter.

Reply to  Ian L. McQueen
April 18, 2016 6:01 pm

“One of them weighed 38 pounds.”
That is a pretty light-weight sharpshooter …

April 17, 2016 2:40 pm

Please remember it still holds true that:
“The whole modern world has divided itself into Conservatives and Progressives. The business of Progressives is to go on making mistakes. The business of the Conservatives is to prevent the mistakes from being corrected.” –
Illustrated London News (ILN), 4/19/24
GK Chesterton
Think income tax, social security, welfare, Department of Education, Department of Energy, War on Poverty, et al.
All from progressive government and never fixed when conservatives take over.

Reply to  mikerestin
April 18, 2016 5:53 pm

As if; It is the duty of the Repubs to maintain the status quo and keep ‘busines’ (read that as “the money”) flowing …

Reply to  _Jim
April 18, 2016 6:00 pm

Read Repubs as Chamber of Commerce

Ivor Ward
April 17, 2016 3:08 pm

Is there anything in Australia that is not considered a pest?

April 17, 2016 3:22 pm

I wonder how many small Australian marsupials will be killed before they work out that the machine is not suitable to the job.

lyn roberts
April 17, 2016 3:41 pm

In some areas where there are infestations of these wild cats all of the small ground dwelling kangaroos, wallabies, bilbies, spotted quoll and many other small species have been wiped out or near wiped out. Bilbies are extremely rare now, except in zoos and protected and fenced refugees. I would be worried that the quoll that is very much like a cat could be mistaken by the robot for a cat.

John Michelmore
Reply to  lyn roberts
April 17, 2016 4:11 pm

Dead right, all cats and quolls vary in size, it’s called age and genetics. This robot will kill other species. I’ve seen quolls the same size as cats, this device will help eliminate the few that are left. Didn’t anyone think of outlawing cats completely in Australia, Oh that’s not going to work either!

April 17, 2016 4:15 pm

I didn’t know toxoplasmosis was so common…………

Reply to  Latitude
April 18, 2016 5:39 am

actually it IS , far more than people realise.

Reply to  ozspeaksup
April 18, 2016 4:07 pm

According to the WHO, toxoplasmosis is second only to malaria in human infection rates. In some developing countries 95% of the population is infected. And contrary to popular alarmist press, most infection is caused from eating tainted meat products, not cat feces, even in the USA and other developed countries.

April 17, 2016 4:35 pm

There is a Saturday Night Live sketch in here somewhere.

April 17, 2016 5:03 pm

Playing God and deciding that cats are worth less than birds. I disagree.

Reply to  arthur4563
April 18, 2016 5:43 am

birds pollinate and spread seed of our native species
cats kill birds and lizards marsupials etc
they have NO place in australias ecosystem except as CONTAINED AT HOME PETS!
the same as ,sadly ,dumped dogs also are a serious problem in some regions,
bounty on a fox? 10
bounty on a wild dog(non dingo) 50$
Victoria, aus

April 17, 2016 5:04 pm

How about a robotic ecologist killing machine? I prefer cats to ecologists.

Graham Clift
April 17, 2016 5:07 pm

Welcome, Australia, you have creating a new plague of feral rats and fearless birds. Hitchcock or writer of Ben will be rolling in their graves

April 17, 2016 5:25 pm

The problem continues to be the legality of cats elsewhere. They were not always feral.

Sun Spot
April 17, 2016 5:42 pm

feral Cat are a pest species, they kill all the native wild life they encounter, shoot them and shoot them often.

Reply to  Sun Spot
April 17, 2016 8:17 pm

Great Idea Sun Spot, or it would be if most boys were still allowed access to a gun.

April 17, 2016 6:16 pm

My my. I have a feral who was caught as a kitten. Her worst habit is getting robins.She is sitting across from me licking her face and watching the sparrows. But then I am watching some idjit from Oz on big brother. Boy I need help!

April 17, 2016 6:51 pm


April 17, 2016 7:57 pm

There’s no way for this to go wrong. There are many ways for it to go seriously wrong tho.
Forget about “who thinks up this crap,” go straight to “who authorizes it.”

Mike T
April 17, 2016 8:20 pm

Saw this cat eliminator demonstrated in a news item about the newly rediscovered Night Parrot population in Qld. Fantastic idea, I reckon. We’ve lost far too may species to feral cats, and anything that gets rid of them is good news, in my view. This is how funds for the environment should be utilised. As for setting traps and speying- this particular nature reserve is in the middle of nowhere and is visited by people infrequently, hence the need for an automatic cat killer. There may be only a few dozen of these parrots left- thought to have been extinct for a century. As a bird, and especially parrot lover, I’d love to see feral cats completely eliminated from this country. Along with foxes, cane toads and wild dogs.

Reply to  Mike T
April 17, 2016 8:32 pm

So the rabbits are OK then?

Mike T
Reply to  dbstealey
April 17, 2016 8:37 pm

My litytle list was suggestive, not comprehensive.

Reply to  Mike T
April 17, 2016 10:07 pm

There were no parrots in Melbourne throughout my childhood, except at the Zoo.
Despite the abundance of domestic cats throughout the suburbs, rainbow lorikeets started appearing in the early years of the new century, with populations exploding over the next few years.
Why didn’t cats prevent the take over of my city by parrots?
Pope Innocent VIII launched a crusade against cats in 1484 – “to be burnt, along with the witches that own them”

Mike T
Reply to  Khwarizmi
April 17, 2016 10:49 pm

Lorikeets are a different proposition to Night Parrots, which live in a part of the continent that has few trees, and in any case the Night Parrot lives on the ground and spends the day in spinifex (which is a low spikey shrub). Cats don’t seem to do much in controlling Indian mynahs, which, unlike lorikeets, are a pest.

Reply to  Khwarizmi
April 17, 2016 11:42 pm

Native to some parts of Australia, the rainbow lorikeet was illegally released in Auckland in the 1990s. This dominant and prolific bird now poses a significant threat to our native wildlife.
Obviously there are either insufficient feral cats in Auckland or there are too many people spreading BS about feral cats.

Mike T
Reply to  verdeviewer
April 18, 2016 4:58 am

Feral cats aren’t a big issue in urban areas. There, it’s pet moggies that’s the problem. The impact of feral cats on ground-living species in the Australian outback is obviously going to be very different than that of cats generally in urban areas with many trees, on a species which spends most of its time high in those trees, although lorikeets will come down quite low for nectar on native shrubs like grevillia. They also form large flocks which are very noisy, warning flock memners when predators come into view.

Reply to  Khwarizmi
April 18, 2016 12:37 am

The Night Parrot was thought to be extinct for ~100 years (1912–2013). Cat populations throughout Australia, domestic and feral, increased dramatically throughout that period.
“Night parrot capture and tagging hailed as ‘holy grail’ moment for bird lovers”. – Guardian, Aug 2015
Are you sure cats are a significant problem for this species?

Mike T
Reply to  Khwarizmi
April 18, 2016 4:37 am

As discussed earlier- the Night Parrot is a ground-living nocturnal bird, inhabiting semi-arid to arid parts of Australia (well, they did originally). It’s reasonable to assume their near-demise is as a result of feral cats and foxes.

April 17, 2016 10:05 pm

Now if we could discover an easy way to destroy windmills. Where is Don Quixote when we need him?

Mike T
April 17, 2016 11:00 pm

Eric, the people affected by the Black Death in Istanbul would have been Greeks. The Turks are not native to the area.

April 17, 2016 11:25 pm

Judging from comments on the Guardian, the media has been successful in convincing people a $450,000+ investment in a cat-killing machine is justified because unconfined cats are eradicating all the “good” free-ranging animals.
The cats are sentenced to eradication based on speculation, hearsay and computer models. There is no concrete evidence they are guilty as charged.
The proposed Australian mass cat slaughter is no more about saving threatened species than Obama’s Clean Power Plan is about saving the planet.

Reply to  verdeviewer
April 18, 2016 12:00 am

verdeviewer says:
The cats are sentenced to eradication based on speculation, hearsay and computer models. There is no concrete evidence they are guilty as charged.
That applies to every comment here that cheers the poisoning of feral cats.
I’ve never said that ferals aren’t a problem in some areas.
As far as humans are concerned, all of nature is subject to cost/benefit analysis. The cost of feral cats is far smaller than some of the baseless opinions here, and the benefits are greater. Given the choice, would we be better off with more rodents? Because ferals constantly hunt them down and eat them. Get rid of feral cats and you have different problems.
Once again: the only thing that works is trap, fix, release. It’s not perfect. But every other ‘solution’ has a bigger downside.

Reply to  dbstealey
April 18, 2016 7:30 am

please have a look at this picture of a feral cat in Australia ..

Reply to  verdeviewer
April 18, 2016 12:51 am

Australian feral cat diet….
You decide whether cats are guilty as charged
Apart from killing them they can be kept out….

Reply to  GregK
April 18, 2016 5:49 am

and this one for those who wont believe the size!

Reply to  GregK
April 18, 2016 9:11 am

You’ve convinced me. The biggest cat I’ve seen in several years of working in our local Humane Society was just at 30 pounds. The one in that picture looks bigger.
I am the first to admit that I am no expert on Australia. I’m trying to keep the conversation focused on the article, where this “ecologist” proposes a ‘solution’ that cannot work:
Despite the impressive science behind it, it is very expensive, and for a country of 7,600,000 square kilometres, it has zero chance of success. It simply can’t overcome the vacuum effect. Once Cats are removed from a region, more simply migrate in. Using it just slows the process of an ecosystem reaching a sustainable balance with the change.
These “ecologists are the same kind of fools who created the problem in the first place, by introducing rabbits.
In defence of farmers, sometimes ecologists really act like idiots as they implement their ideologies. The removal of feral species from Macquarie Island is one of the best examples of ecologists wrecking the ecosystem in the process of trying to turn it back to 1788. Cats, Rabbits, and Rats were first introduced in the 1860s. Although the Cats hunted some native birds, a new balance was formed in which all species were relatively assured of survival. Almost a century later, the myxomatosis virus was introduced to eliminate rabbits. As Rabbit numbers fell, Cats turned to native birds. With each new myxomatosis outbreak, the ecosystem was pushed into chaos…
I suspect that as usual, money is the unspoken goal of ‘ecologists’:
To deal with the problem of Cats, scientists asked for $500,000 to eliminate a feral population of around 500 Cats.
I think a simple bounty on feral cats, say, $10 per head, would be far more cost effective.

Reply to  GregK
April 18, 2016 12:13 pm

GregK, from the reference:
Data collected from 22 studies of feral cats in mainland Australia suggest that mammals comprise the major prey of feral cats in most localities. Introduced rabbits and house mice predominate in semi-arid to arid habitats, whereas marsupials (especially the common ringtail possom) are predominant in temperate forest, urban, and suburban habitats. Brushtail possoms, sugar gliders, greater gliders, brown antechinus, brush rat and swamp rat are consistently part of the diet of feral cats in the temperate forests…In wet-dry tropical habitats where rabbits do not occur native Rattus spp. become more important, including the pale field rat, dusky rat and the long-haired rat.
No mention of bandicoots, bilbies, rat-kangaroos, quolls, hare-wallabies, and others whose supposed extinction was previously attributed to foxes. Where are the “rare and endangered birds?” Is it not strange that demise of species once attributed to foxes is now being attributed to cats?
Foxes are clearly a bigger problem than cats, and combined agricultural impact and control efforts are estimated to cost AU$2 million per year. But in areas where foxes are poisoned with 1080 baits, rabbits proliferate and require additional control.
Little note is made of the fact that rabbits compete for food with native prey species. The demise of the Eastern Quoll began with the introduction of rabbits, before even foxes entered the picture:
The article describes the current demise of quoll in Tasmania. Conclusion: “The Tasmanian experience demonstrates that if NSW and Victoria are ever to reintroduce the eastern quoll, at least on a landscape scale, we must first reintroduce the [Tasmanian] devil– in a hope that a healthy devil population would suppress cat and perhaps fox numbers, allowing the eastern quoll to have a chance to survive in the wild.”
Reintroduction of an extirpated native predator sounds more promising than government-funded dispersal of a robotic terminator that requires regular upkeep and is almost certainly being promoted more for profit than practicality. There’s a problem, however, in that the Tasmanian Devil may soon join the Tasmanian Tiger as no more than a memory:
Will foxes and cats replace Tasmania’s last native top-level predator?

Sandy In Limousin
April 17, 2016 11:50 pm

Presumably the poison is cat specific to allow native carrion eaters to survive? Indian vultures and diclofenac should be a lesson for anyone considering this type of thing.

Mike T
Reply to  Sandy In Limousin
April 18, 2016 4:42 am

As noted in Eric’s story, native animals have a high resistance to 1080. It has been used for many years in fox control efforts.

April 18, 2016 1:18 am

Good luck Australia!
We’ve done the feral cat discussion before.
Normally rational folks refuse to believe anything about feral cats that doesn’t fit their kitty cat belief. A very useless discussion.
That ‘trap’ has a number of issues, but the ecologist should already know about them. If he isn’t blinded by his beliefs.
What he is establishing is a new Darwinian filter. One that eliminates normal sized cats in favor of misshapen, small or large cats. The size selection effect should be evident within years.
Perhaps Australia has begun breeding their own saber tooth lion?
Cats live between 13 to 20+ years. I had a cousin that owned a thirty plus pound cat. Unknown breeding and unafraid of any dogs or people. He was a really cool cat and would hop in the car window to go riding with us.
Coyotes are beyond invasive as they’re endemic to most of America. The Eastern coyote is larger than the Texas area coyote and there is some research that establishes red wolf DNA in the Eastern coyote. I believe those samples were drawn from coyotes captured in Southern Michigan.
Trappers leave their traps out in the weather for at least a year, even if they’ve boiled the traps. They also attempt to de-scent or over scent clothes and gloves. Over scent is soaking the clothes and especially gloves and boots in strong odors that do not scare the animals; like bobcat or coyote urine if that is the animal you are after. Cats and coyotes are considered very tough animals to trap. When someone tells me that feral cats are easy to catch, they just proved that they’ve never really trapped animals.
Feral means the animal has returned to the wild. Nor does it take many bad human interactions to cause feral animals to avoid humans and human scent. Scent animals easily detect for weeks after the human has left. Anyone who believes feral animals just walk into traps has not actually trapped feral animals.
Feral animals do not enjoy or seek rotten meat or baits with rat/mice odors all over them. Rats and mice are incredibly efficient at eating bait without triggering a trap and it takes a truly starving feral animal to enter a trap to nibble at bait with mouse pellets on it.
Cats of normal size eat a fair amount of cat food every day. A feral cat is operating at a much higher energy level and requires much more food. Only their food is fresh meat, not some grain/meat product mix. Fresh meat translates to dead animals.
Cats will hunt any animal they believe they have a chance to kill; rabbits, chickens, pheasants, song birds, etc. Any land or tree nesting bird smaller than a goose is prey to normal sized feral cats. And birds are at their most vulnerable when nesting.
Wild cats, bobcats, lynxes, ocelots, jaguars, mountain lions, etc. have surprising large territories that they range over.
Feral cats, dumped willy-nilly by their ex-owners, are downright crowded in many near urban semi-wild areas. Don’t forget that there is a constant supply of ex-owners dumping new cats. The truly stupid cats quickly feed the local coyotes, the others receive lessons on feral.
Frankly, I do not have the money that shelters and vets require for spay operations. I have never been offered a free spay operation for an animal.
Nor do I have the inclination to waste my time doing the whole shelter dance, especially if someone believes I’m going to take and put the spayed puss right back in my woods. They are destructive for many years and very unwelcome.

Reply to  ATheoK
April 18, 2016 1:31 am

Well said ATheoK.

Reply to  ATheoK
April 18, 2016 5:53 am

++++++ well said:-)

Reply to  ATheoK
April 18, 2016 8:07 am

cool- you got away with posting that.
my comment with links to data on extinctions due to feral cats was removed. surely that was an accident because data is always useful and helpful.
it’s hard to notice something that’s missing- but in Marin county, there is no bird song.
on a warm day, though, one can often smell the stench of feral cats (especially near Paradise Cay)

Reply to  gnomish
April 19, 2016 7:29 pm

There are posts going missing gnomish.
I just lost one in the Pat Franks Systematical errors thread.
Near as I can figure, the more links included and perhaps the length of tie you work on a post increases the risk of the post getting lost.
The posts go lost without getting captured by WordPress I think. Meaning that they’re lost before Anthony/WUWT sees them.

April 18, 2016 1:42 am

Headline – ‘Ecologist dies in mysterious circumstances. Sydney police are relating it to an electrical storm and a brawl in a biker bar, started by a big cat demanding, ‘I want your jacket, boots and mororcycle”

April 18, 2016 5:15 am

Perhaps learning a little may help.
One place actually capturing and checking diet is:
So is 12 million feral cats a good estimate?
In the desert they eat more reptiles than anything else (see the .pdf below)

April 18, 2016 5:55 am

hmmm? 🙂
I wonder if they have a close turnstile on Parliament house?
few ferals there also

April 18, 2016 6:53 am

I am rather shocked to see many commenters who see no problem with having cats roam freely. Terms like “cat hater” seems to be common usage from those who don’t seem to grasp that their house cat was named a ‘house cat’ for a reason. This is referenced to cat owners in general and nearly all seem to be as religious about it as a fervent climate alarmist.
As far as the ‘eastern coyote’ goes, the only good purpose they serve is their diet of cats.
So call me a ‘cat hater’ if you wish, but I have no issue with house cats.

Reply to  eyesonu
April 19, 2016 8:01 pm

Who said that cats should be able to roam freely? I certainly disagree with that.
The central question is: what’s the best solution to the feral cat problem?
From the comments, most folks think the wholesale poisoning of any mammals the size of cats isn’t the best solution. There is probably no completely effective solution. But poisoning is pretty far down the list.
By now feral cats have their ecological niche. If they were completely eradicated, the rodent and rabbit populations would skyrocket; is there any doubt?
Personally, I think the feral cat ‘problem’ is making a molehill into a mountain. Listen to what the local farmers say. They don’t want feral cats eliminated. And they’re the ones who would know best.
I suspect this “ecologist” is angling for a grant. But that’s just my guess. Does anyone here think he’d turn down some grant money?

Reply to  dbstealey
April 23, 2016 11:15 pm

[Snip. Impostor. -mod]

Reply to  Karl
April 23, 2016 11:23 pm

Quote * I am very, very reluctant to go near cats though..* I would add ferrets and stoats to that.

Peter Kerr
April 18, 2016 7:04 am

Nothing strange or unusual here, you just have to understand, vindicating Godwin, that we Australians divide up the animal kingdom much as the Nazis did humanity: for native animals (roos wombats etc), nothing’s too good for them; with domesticated animals (cows chickens dogs etc), we exploit them as we see fit, and treat them well as it suits us; and finally we have feral animals (foxes cats goats etc) which you are encouraged to kill in lots of nasty ways. The equivalent Nazi triad of course is Arians, Slavs, and subhumans. I often wonder if Peter Singer the Aussie animal rights philosopher, whose expanding circle of rights encompasses animals too, ever worries that there might be back contamination from the Aussie view of animals onto the way we treat humans, rather than leading us, as he hopes, to treat animals like humans.

April 18, 2016 8:34 am

With all the deadly snakes (100 species!), spiders, sharks, crocodiles, and even jellyfish that can be found in Australia, this twit is out to kill feral CATS?!

Reply to  tadchem
April 18, 2016 5:41 pm

Hmmmm … Maybe the cats had a taste for ground-nesting bird species; an intractable situation for the bird I would think …