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Eradicating feral cats had unexpected consequences

by Therese on January 10, 2008

in Cats

A study by the School of Biological Sciences at Aukland University, in New Zealand showed that eradicating feral cats had an unexpected impact on wildlife.

A recent report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found a bid by the Department of Conservation (DoC) to remove cats from New Zealand’s Little Barrier Island had unintended consequences.

Killing off all the cats in 1980 resulted in a jump in rat numbers, which proved deadly to the local Cook’s petrel population.

Cook’s petrels are small burrow-dwelling birds that are abundant on the island, but have disappeared from mainland New Zealand.

When both rats and cats were preying on the petrels 32 per cent of the birds had chicks, but this dropped to just 9 per cent after cats were removed.

The situation in New Zealand is similar to events in Australia’s Macquarie Island, which found rabbit and rodent populations exploded after feral cats were eradicated in the 1990s.

Read the rest from The Australian or read the abstract.

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