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The natural world. Looking pretty for 3.5b years.

Feral Troubles in OZ

Feral Troubles in OZ

Author: Hugh Bollinger/Tuesday, February 10, 2015/Categories: natural history, wildlife conservation, sustainability, environment

Global View of the Australian Continent from Space (credit: NASA)

Australians like to joke that they live in the beautiful Land of OZ with a capitol called, Alice. Quick
wit aside, their nation has some of the most remarkable plants and animals that are unique to the continent. Exact estimates vary on the total number of  Australian endemic species  but nearly 85% of all mammals; 90% of all reptiles and amphibians; perhaps 45% of the birds; and over 80% of the plants are found anywhere else. The continent is large, vast portions arid, and human populations restricted to several major cities while endemic species typically inhabit restricted and often unstudied habitats. New species are constantly being discovered. Australia is a place of wonder but much of its unique wildlife species is in trouble.

Multiple researchers from Australian environmental centers and  Charles Darwin University  in the Northern Territories, note in their aptly entitled new report, Ongoing unraveling of a continental fauna ;

"The distinctive and mostly endemic Australian land mammal fauna has suffered an extraordinary rate of extinction of 10% over the last 200 years. In comparison, only one native land mammal from continental North America became extinct since European settlement. A further 21% of Australian end
emic land mammal species are now threatened. Much of the loss of this fauna has been in areas remote from human population centers and recognized as relatively unmodified. The loss of Australian land mammals is most likely due primarily to predation by introduced species particularly the feral cat and European red fox."

 
  
Feral Cat with Cockatoo  (credit: change.org )               Feral Red Fox  (credit: FeralScan )

What's to be done?

While, no one strategy is a solution to controlling feral predators, a combination approach of:

unrestricted hunting of feral species; laws restricting domestic cats to homes; required sterilization of all cats; increased trapping of feral cats and foxes for elimination; animal proffing habitats and the removal of any feral predators inside; species specific fertility control drugs dispersed in food pellets in high feral animal areas; captive breeding of species that have been reduced by feral predators; and increased education on the impacts of feral cat and foxes on native species

is required. Only then can the colors of OZ start being restored where they have disappeared.

WHB

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