Friday, July 14, 2006

killing foxes increases cats to kill?

Feral cats outfox baiters
Ninemsn, Australia - Jul 9, 2006
Scientists suspect that successful fox baiting in Western Australia may be creating an advantage for the more cunning and potentially more environmentally devastating feral cat.

State environment minister Mark McGowan said more research was needed to test the theory that cats were moving into areas previously cleared of foxes.

Announcing a $16 million program to control feral cats in WA, Mr McGowan said the introduced furry creatures were devastating local wildlife. [bold added]

He said feral cats were wreaking havoc on native fauna including woylies, numbats, possums and chudich and were estimated to cost the nation's agriculture industry and environment more than $720 million a year in lost production and control.

"While we have had some success in controlling foxes in some designated areas, we have found that native species are not always recovering to healthy numbers," Mr McGowan said.

"There is a strong suspicion that this is due to an increase in cat numbers, as a direct consequence of the decrease in fox numbers.

"Cats have different behaviour and habits to foxes and do not take dry baits easily.

"We need to understand why fauna recovery has not been maintained at some locations that have been fox-baited and examine the theory that the removal of foxes has just given cats more food."

The feral cat control program will look at a number of ways of controlling the predators and will examine how they interact with other invasive species and with native animals.