Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Wildlife fatalities largely due to pets

Dogs and cats are great pets but we need to remember they are predators and unless confined they can cause havoc with native wildlife.  Cairns Pets are in one of the most ecologically rich areas of Australia, so are among the most likely to cause damage.  There have been recent reports of Cairns Dogs attacking wildlife such as kangaroos and wallabies, while Cairns Cats are a constant cause of small animal and bird mortality.Dallas McMillan
Read Cairns Vet pet advice and Pet news on the web.

Wildlife attacks blamed on cat, dog owners

06:58 AEST Tue Dec 28 2010

Irresponsible pet owners are being blamed for the "shocking" number of dog and cat attacks on native wildlife in Australia's eastern states.

Almost 17,000 attacks on native animals have been recorded in the past five years by prominent animal welfare groups who say the results are just the tip of the iceberg.

The figures only include injured or orphaned animals, and not the many hundreds of thousands which die or go unreported, according to the Wildlife Information, Rescue and Education Service (WIRES).

WIRES general manager Leanne Taylor said most cases are likely to be related to domestic dogs and cats rather than feral animals which usually eat their prey.

But the real culprits are people who don't supervise their pets, she said.

"Cats and dogs only do what they have evolved to do to survive and that is to hunt their prey for food," she said.

"We shouldn't demonise them for doing this but (we) should take the responsibility for their behaviour ourselves."

WIRES collated the statistics with Sydney Metropolitan Wildlife Service (SMWS), Wildcare Australia (WA) in Queensland, and Wildlife Victoria (WV).

In a joint statement, the agencies said the figures "add up to a shocking picture of irresponsible pet ownership".

They reveal that in Victoria, cats were responsible for 1631 attacks on native animals while 1163 dog attacks were recorded during the five-year period.

Nearly 70 koalas were either killed or injured by dogs, WV said.

Sixty attacks on kangaroos were recorded, along with 143 attacks on blue-tongue lizards by dogs.

More than 1100 possums were injured or killed by cats and dogs.

Among them were some of the more rare species including the eastern pygmy possum, Mitchell's hopping mouse and the mountain brushtail.

WIRES figures show 10,936 attacks on wildlife for NSW - almost evenly split between cats and dogs - with more than 4700 of those in Sydney alone.

That figure jumps to 6646 when SMWS's recorded attacks are included.

The organisation also says one of the most attacked animals by cats in Sydney is the ringtail possum.

In Queensland, Wildcare Australia (WA) recorded 1128 dog and cat attacks over the five-year period from December 2005 to November 2010.

WA says 318 birds, 486 possums and 134 reptiles were injured, orphaned or killed by cats and dogs, adding that the Gold Coast City Council area "topped the list for irresponsible pet ownership" with a reported 356 attacks.

Brisbane City Council followed with 245 and then Logan with 137.

WIRES said pet owners can help reduce the number of attacks by preventing their cats and dogs from roaming uncontrolled or unsupervised.

"We also recommend people buy or build enclosures for cats so they can get access to outside safely, and with dogs, keep them on-leash on beaches and in wildlife areas," Jilea Carney of WIRES told AAP.

Dogs and cats should also be desexed to stem the flow of unwanted animals, she said.

The agencies said there are other wildlife groups in each state which would also have their own figures.

"You could only imagine what the national figure would be," Ms Carney said.

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