It could at first sound like a free act of cruelty, yet, the government has a very specific reason for this culling. Indeed, according to Gregory Andrews, the national commissioner of threatened species, feral cats are the “single biggest threat” to Australia’s native species.
Ferocious hunters on the loose
First introduced by European settlers when they migrated to Australia, cats have now taken over the continent, and, with their hunting, have driven an estimated 20 mammal species to extinction.
“We have got to make choices to save animals that we love, and who define us as a nation like the bilby, the warru (Black-footed rock-wallaby) and the night parrot,” Andrews continues.
According to a study published in the journal Biological Conservation, it is estimated that cats kill 377 million birds and 649 million reptiles a year in Australia.
A feral cat carrying a rare brush‐tailed phascogale in the jarrah forest in SW Western AustraliaPosted by Sporting Shooters Association Of Australia WA Inc. on Wednesday, January 4, 2017
The sausage plan
The Australian government has been trying for years to reduce the amount of feral cats in the Australian bush, by trapping and shooting the animals. However, it came to a point where they had to think of a more effective and especially more humane way of culling the population. This is where the sausages came in.
The hand-prepared sausages contain kangaroo meat, chicken fat, herbs, and spices. Dr Dave Alger, who helped create the recipe, gave the little (un-poisoned) sausages to his own cats as a test-drive, to see whether they would be popular among the feral cat population.
“They’ve got to taste good. They are the cat’s last meal,” he said.
Once prepped, the sausages are laced with poison (1080), and 50 per kilometre are air-dropped in areas where the cats roam free.
Cats die 15 minutes after consumption.
While this culling serves purely a conservation purpose, many are against the sausage plan, especially cat-lovers.
So far, more than 160,000 people have signed online petitions to stop the culling. Many are saying the government should re-focus on other issues causing the loss of biodiversity in Australia, including urban expansion, logging, and mining.