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Australia considering cat curfews to protect biodiversity

  • INSIDER, Australia
  • 11 September, 2023 12:00 AM
  • Print news
Australia considering cat curfews to protect biodiversity

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Australia has an invasive species problem — and unlike other infamous invasive critters, like the spotted lanternfly or Burmese python, these ones are soft to the touch, enjoy the occasional pet, and love to lounge in patches of sunlight.

There are 8.1 million cats in Australia, and there is almost no part of the country they aren't found roaming about. At such huge numbers, Australian felines — both domestic and feral — pose a real threat to the continent's biodiversity.

Experts estimate cats in Australia kill about 2 billion animals each year. There are 57 species in Australia labeled "highly susceptible" to cat predation, including 47 mammal species, according to a report from Australia's Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment, and Water.

To protect the country's biodiversity, the government is looking for solutions to their cat problem, according to The New York Times. While there are several measures in place to curb feral cat populations — including euthanasia — a new government proposal is targeting domestic cats too. Officials are weighing the possibility of cat curfews, indoor mandates, and capping the number of cats households can own.

These ideas for curtailing cat populations aren't new. Several local governments in Australia already rely on rules like these to protect their ecosystems. The proposal would standardize the rules and give local governments more authority to expand them according to their needs.

Despite the vaunted status enjoyed by cats, The Australian public appears largely supportive of the measures.

"Maybe our job is easier in Australia, unfortunately, because we've lost so many species," Sarah Legge, professor at the Australian National University, told the Times. "The public is much more supportive of managing cats, including pet cat owners."