Pet cats killing 323 mn native Australian animals annually: Report

by IANS |

Canberra, June 9 (IANS) Domesticated cats kill 323 million native Australian animals every year, a new research report has revealed.

According to the new report from the Biodiversity Council, Invasive Species Council, and Birdlife Australia, the figure represents an increase of 34 per cent from 241 million in 2020 after a surge in pet ownership during the coronavirus pandemic, reports Xinhua news agency.

About one-third of Australian households have a pet cat and half of those have two or more.

Authors of the report called for Australians to take greater responsibility for their pets, with 71 per cent of cat owners still allowing them to roam freely.

"The jump in wildlife kills reflects the pandemic pet boom that saw pet cat numbers reach 5.3 million and is an alarm bell for governments to enact responsible pet ownership laws, including 24/7 cat curfews," Sarah Legge, an ecologist from Charles Darwin University and spokesperson for the Biodiversity Council, said in a statement on Friday.

Residents of the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) are required by law to contain their cats at all times while in Victoria approximately half of local councils have containment rules.

However, in other states, legislative barriers have prevented similar rules from being introduced.

The Invasive Species Council claims that a 24/7 cat curfew in the greater Sydney area alone would save 66 million native animals every year.

The 110 native animals killed on average by each roaming and hunting pet cat every year include about 40 reptiles, 38 birds and 32 mammals.

"We can't change the behaviour of cats, but we can support better choices by cat owners," Holly Parsons from Birdlife Australia said.

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