Australia is at war – with wild cats. By 2020, the government plans to kill two million free-roaming cats, a large proportion of the total wildcat population, estimated at two to six million.
Some areas of Australia have gone further. In the northeastern state of Queensland, there is even a council that offers a per capita $ 10 per capita premium, a policy that has called humans "cruel" for the ethical treatment of animals (PETA).
The problem does not exist exclusively for Australia. In neighboring New Zealand, a prominent environmentalist has proposed a cat-free future in which both domestic cats and wildcats are either controlled or eradicated.
The answer is simple: cats, especially wildcats, are killers. 1
9659006] The first cat is said to have arrived sometime in Australia in the 17th century. Since then, their numbers have increased, the population is expected to make up 99.8% of the country today.
Although wild cats belong to the same species as domestic cats, wildcats live in the wild where they are forced to hunt for survival.
Since their first introduction by European settlers, wild cats have contributed to the extinction of an estimated 20 species of mammals, said Gregory Andrews, national commissioner for endangered species, the Sydney Morning Herald. According to Andrews, this is the biggest threat to the indigenous nature of Australia.
And that's important in Australia, an island nation cut off from the rest of the world for thousands of years. Today, an estimated 80% of Australian mammals and 45% of their birds live nowhere else on earth.
For cats, native species are an easy prey. It is estimated that cats kill more than 1 million native birds and 1.7 million reptiles throughout Australia every day, a spokesman for the Australian Department of Environment and Energy told CNN, citing scientific research.
Some of the other cat-endangered species include the tail-hunted rabbit rat, which the government classifies as susceptible, and the rat-like golden bandicoot.
"We do not return cats, we do not do that because we hate cats," Andrews said.
"We must make decisions to save animals we love and who define us as a nation."
The government, which announced its plan to launch in 2015, pledged $ 5 million to help community groups targeting cats at the frontline.
But the plan has come under attack – and, surprisingly, conservationists are critics.
Tim Doherty, a conservation ecologist from Deakin University in Australia, agrees that wild cats have a large tribute to Australian native species but believes that sowing is based on shaky science.
"By the time the target was set in 2015, we did not really know how many wild cats there were in Australia," he said, adding that some estimates put the number at that time at 18 million, which he called a "gross over estimate".
"There is no truly reliable estimate for a whole continent, and if you want to set a goal, and if you want it to make sense, you also need to be able to measure your progress."  Another, more urgent question is that killing a cat does not necessarily save the lives of birds or mammals – the cat must have lived in an area where animals are threatened. He said.
And bounty had to be concentrated on a particular area, Doherty said. "It needs to be more focused than a scatter gun approach," he said.
Although cats are a major problem, the government has focused heavily on expansion, logging, and mining at the expense of other, more politically sensitive issues, such as urban habitat loss.
"There is a possibility that cats may be used to some extent as a distraction," he said. "We must also take a holistic approach and address all threats to biodiversity."
Other notable critics of the plan include British singer Morrissey and Brigitte Bardot.
"Cats to go"
In New Zealand there were calls to stop domestic cats altogether.
The remote island nation, which was one of the last places on earth to be reached by humans, has already announced a cool goal of becoming completely predator-free by 2050. Rats, possums and dumps kill 25 million people every year according to the government.
New Zealand has no domestic land mammals other than bats, meaning that a plethora of birds – including the country's flightless kiwi – could thrive in a land without predators. Now 37% of New Zealand bird species are threatened. In addition, many of the birds living in New Zealand are bottom-dwellers and make them vulnerable to cats, according to the country's cat protection agency.
In 2013, the well-known New Zealand economist Gareth Morgan drew the wrath of cat lovers – including the then Prime Minister John Key, himself owner of a cat named Moonbeam, shouted at one Campaign called "cats to go" cat lovers to avoid having their pet replaced when it dies.
"Cats are the only true wildlife sadists, serial killers who torture without mercy," he said, adding.
CNN has asked Morgan for an opinion.
Two years later, then-Secretary of State Maggie Barry urged the authorities to rescue stray cats to rescue the native bird populations, and demanded pet cats at around $ 1,134 million, according to the New Zealand Companion Animal Council's budget limit to one or two his.
And last year, Omaui, a small coastal town on New Zealand's South Island, considered a ban on new domestic cats in the area – although this was the case, "We are not cat-haters, but we want our environment to be rich in wildlife," said the chairman of the Omaui Landcare Charitable Trust, John Collins, last August.