Nor is the problem exclusive to Australia. In neighboring New Zealand, a prominent environmentalist has proposed a cat-free future, with both domestic and feral cats either controlled or culled.
The answer is simple: Cats, especially feral ones, are killers.
Although feral cats belong to the same species as domestic cats, feral cats live in the wild where they are forced to hunt for survival.
“We are not culling cats for the sake of it, we are not doing so because we hate cats,” said Andrews.
“We have got to make choices to save animals that we love, and who define us as a nation.”
But the plan has come under fire — and surprisingly, conservationists are among the critics.
Tim Doherty, a conservation ecologist from Deakin University in Australia, agrees that feral cats take a “big toll” on Australia’s native species, but believes the cull is based on shaky science.
“At the time, when the target was set in 2015, we actually didn’t know how many feral cats there were in Australia,” he said, adding that some estimates at the time put the number at 18 million, which he called a “gross over estimate.”
“There’s not really a reliable way to estimate across an entire continent, and if you’re going to set a target, and if you want it to be meaningful, you need to be able to measure your progress towards it.”
Another, more pressing issue, is that merely killing a cat doesn’t necessarily save bird or mammal lives — the cat needs to have been living in an area that has threatened animals, he said.
And bounties needed to be focused on a certain area, Doherty said. “It needs to be concentrated rather than a scatter gun approach,” he said.
While cats are a big problem, the government had focused heavily on them at the cost of other, more politically sensitive issues like habitat loss caused by urban expansion, logging and mining.
“There’s a possibility there that cats are being used as a distraction to some extent,” he said. “We also need to have a more holistic approach and address all threats to biodiversity.”
‘Cats to go’
In New Zealand there have been calls to put a stop to domestic cats altogether.
CNN has reached out to Morgan for comment.
And last year, Omaui, a small coastal town in New Zealand’s South Island considered banning new domestic cats in the area — although it has since backtracked on its plan.
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