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Australia Is Killing Millions Of Cats. Here’s Why

The Australian government has embarked on a project to kill its massive feral cat population using poisonous sausage after the cats have completely decimated over 20 species.

The sausages contain a mix of chicken fat, kangaroo meat and various herbs and spices along with deadly poison, The New York Times reported Thursday. Dr. Dave Algar, also known as Dr. Death, studied brands of cat food to determine what flavors were most appealing to felines. Algar, a principal research scientist in the Department of Biodiversity Conservation and Attractions for the state of Western Australia, created a recipe for the sausages which are laced with 1080, a highly lethal poison to cats, the NYT reported.

The sausages are produced in a factory south of Perth.

The deadly sausages are the latest in the country’s attempt to exterminate the millions of feral cats that roam throughout Australia. The cats occupy nearly 99.8 percent of the country. They reach nearly 100 in number per square kilometer in some areas. Experts do not know how the cats, which are not indigenous to Australia, first arrived.

The feral cats have led directly to the extinction of at least 22 of Australia’s now extinct species. “Recent extinction rates in Australia are unparalleled,” conservation researcher John Woinarski said, according to the NYT. “It’s calamitous.”

Australia pledged in 2015 to kill at least two million feral cats by 2020 in order to preserve indigenous wildlife. The cats threaten dozens of small rodent and marsupial species. Eradication methods included shooting, trapping and poison, according to the NYT.

“Australians have a huge appreciation for our natural fauna,” said Queensland veterinarian named Katria Lovell, the NYT reported. “Most people have empathy with the fact that there is all this wildlife being killed and it is taking its toll on the environment, so I think there is a general feeling that something has to be done.”

After intense study, ecologists began to know, and even name, the cats that were the most deadly hunters. Approximately 211,560 cats were killed in the first year of the program’s enactment, according to estimates by The Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, the NYT reported.

Despite mild reservations, PETA Australia got on board with the plan, recognizing that the cats’ hunting had decimated and continues to destroy species and habitats.

Petitions to save the cats were met largely with scorn by most Australians. “Why has someone started a petition to save the feral cats? Pure stupidity as more and more native animals are killed by cats,” a reader told a newspaper editor in Queensland, the NYT reported.

Feral cats have become a plague all around the world, and have been responsible for the extinction of roughly 63 unique species in the last five centuries.

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