Farmers take up arms against feral threat
FARMERS have a bit on their plate at the moment and spend a fair bit of their time looking skywards in the hope the gods are going to be pleased enough to drop a bit more rain onto their paddocks.
There is no doubt working the land is a risky business and while the rewards in the good season may be high, the unpredictability of the seasons and the market place keeps them on their toes.
For a bit of light relief once a year, the boys and girls of the bush load up the utes with enough weaponry to start a small war and head off into the paddocks to hunt down and kill any feral that is unfortunate enough to cross their path.
Ostensibly they go out looking for foxes but being a cat or a rabbit is also quite life challenging on Red Card for Foxes and Rabbit Night.
This year the shooters again did remarkably well and all up 814 people armed to the teeth took out 150 cats, 589 rabbits and 2428 foxes which in anyone’s language is not a bad effort.
Research shows, however, that in some areas there could be hundreds of foxes in a 10sq km radius and these foxes can cause lamb losses of upwards of 20 per cent. Little wonder that every time a fox is popped, the capacity to increase the profit margin on a farm goes up.
The issue of feral animals has long dogged this country and despite baiting and the development and implementation of new viruses, we still struggle to come to terms with non-native species.
It does not help either when we turn a blind eye to the number of cats that we keep as pets knowing full well that every one of these cats has the potential to turn feral and create havoc on the environment.
We spend hundreds of millions of dollars each year on pest eradication and yet we still condone the keeping of cats as pets.
Maybe it is time to bite the bullet and declare an end date for the cat. This would mean that existing cats could live out their lives but not be replaced and then long-term any remaining cats could be shot out.
The cat lovers association would not be too happy with this scenario but we have got to get our priorities right in terms of our farm lands and our native species.
Besides there are a number of native animals that could easily replace the role cats play which can only be a good thing.