Feral Cats Cover Over 99.8% of Australia Say Scientists

Posted on January 3, 2017

Feral cat Australia

Feral cats can be found all over Australia. A new study found that feral cats cover over 99.8% of Australia's land area and 80% of the area of Australia's islands. The research was conducted by over 40 of Australia's top environmental scientists. It contains evidence from nearly 100 separate studies across Australia.

Dr. Sarah Legge from The University of Queensland, says in a statement, "Australia's total feral cat population fluctuates between 2.1 million when times are lean, up to 6.3 million when widespread rain results in plenty of available prey."

The researchers found that cat densities are higher on Australia's islands. Cat densities were the same both inside and outside conservation reserves, such as Australia's National Parks. This raises concerns about the ability to protect Australian wildlife from the feral cats.

Dr. Legge says, "Our study highlights the scale and impacts of feral cats and the urgent need to develop effective control methods, and to target our efforts in areas where that control will produce the biggest gains. At the moment feral cats are undermining the efforts of conservation managers and threatened species recovery teams across Australia. It is this difficulty which is pushing conservation managers into expensive, last resort conservation options like creating predator free fenced areas and establishing populations on predator-free islands. These projects are essential for preventing extinctions, but they are not enough - they protect only a tiny fraction of Australia's land area, leaving feral cats to wreak havoc over the remaining 99.8% of the country."

A research paper on the study was published here in the journal, Biological Conservation.

Photo: Courtesy, Threatened Species Recovery Hub of the Australian Government's National Environmental Science Programme