A bounty has been placed on the head of wild cats, with council officials offering money to farmers who shoot them, as reported by abc.net.au.
Farmers have taken to the offering of money like a duck to water, roaming the fields in search for the feral pest. Many farmers have begun shooting the animals on sight, with one farmer, Sib Torrisi, taking out any of the cats he seets on his Banana Shire property.
"They're a monster within our environment, some are half the size of dogs," he said.
The farmer said when he first moved to the area over 20 years ago, the landscape was dotted with many birds and sand goannas. He said this has all changed since the cats took over.
"They climb up trees — they choke the life out of the animals by grabbing them by the throat," he said.
Research carried out last month, found that the cats had killed over 272million wild birds every year. The statistic is what led the bounty to be placed on the head of the cats, with a huge cull needed. $10 has been offered for an adult cat, with $5 for every kitten.
The local council have placed aside $25,000 as the budget to cover the bounty and the programme will not cease until the last of the funding is spent. The mayor of the Banana Shire area, Nev Ferrier, said the council had no definite data about the problem, though farmers acknowledged the problem.
"They're [feral cats] very determined," said Ferrier.
The bounty has been slammed by Animal rights activists who described it as “cruel”. The move is not the first of it it’s kind in the country, with Australia previously offering bounties for foxes, rabbits, and feral dogs.
Upon their decision to implement the bounty, the council received a huge public backlash from around the world. Some suggested the council were condoning the skinning alive of these animals, as the scalps were required to collect the bounty.
"We've had a fair few ridiculous letters to us, emails, abusive phone calls," said Ferrier.
PETA issued a warning to local residents in the area to keep their domesticated cats locked up, or they may be killed too. They did this through a billboard near the council’s office in Bileola, though a spokesperson for PETA did admit to the problem of feral and domestic cats killing wild birds. She, Laura Weyman-Jones, did say that this shooting of the wild cats was causing suffering for animals and had not caused a reduction in long term numbers.
PETA believe the cats should be left alone, until a non-invasive way is identified to sterilise them and prevent reproduction.
The council however have refused to back down and Mayor Ferrier called the idea of a mass sterilisation as “ridiculous”. The council also currently have a bounty on dingos in the area, with farmers receiving up to $50. In comparison many farmers have condemned the offering for the feral cats, saying it is simply not worth the petrol.
No scalps have been brought into the council as of yet, though Ferrier insists it is only a matter of time until they do.
"I've had a couple of farmers call me up up and say they want to give us money to increase the bounty," Cr Ferrier said.
"Someone's got to do something sooner or later about it, because our grandchildren won't see a bird or anything flying around — it'll only be cats half the size of a lion, running around killing everything." he concluded.
Picture above courtesy of ABC.net.au