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      The Changing Legal Status of Cats in Australia: From Friend of the Settlers, to Enemy of the Rabbit, and Now a Threat to Biodiversity and Biosecurity Risk

      Frontiers in Veterinary Science
      Frontiers Media S.A.
      free-roaming cats, TNR, enemy of the rabbit, lethal measures, biosecurity

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          In NSW, free-roaming cats are regarded as one the biggest threats to biodiversity. Yet, at one stage they were classified as “the enemy of the rabbit” and were protected and released in their thousands. The purpose of this article is to examine the changing status of cats in Australia, demonstrating that regulation frequently depends on a narrow set of values based on the usefulness of cats at a given point in time. By the late twentieth century, the status of free-roaming cats had changed from enemy of the rabbit, to threat to biodiversity and then in the twenty-first century, to a risk to biosecurity. Once the status of cats changed from enemy of the rabbit, management practices followed historically-driven pathways that rely on lethal methods, which do not necessarily prioritize efficacy, animal wellbeing, or changing community outlooks. This is reflected in current practice, which gives scant regard to non-lethal processes, such as Trap-Neuter-Release, and in some cases makes the feeding and release of free-roaming cats, illegal. This article argues that regulatory preferences for employing lethal methods, now occur in a society which increasingly questions the efficacy of these measures, as well as the very need to kill. While TNR is unlikely to provide a complete solution to the problem of free-roaming cats in Australia, given the success of TNR among community groups, accompanied by changing societal perspectives, the time has come for regulators to engage with alternative control methods and include them in their suite of official measures.

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          Most cited references29

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          The diets of cats, foxes and dingoes in relation to prey availability in the Tanami Desert, Northern Territory

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            Catastrophic cat predation: A call for predator profiling in wildlife protection programs

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              Effects of low-level culling of feral cats in open populations: a case study from the forests of southern Tasmania


                Author and article information

                Front Vet Sci
                Front Vet Sci
                Front. Vet. Sci.
                Frontiers in Veterinary Science
                Frontiers Media S.A.
                18 February 2019
                : 5
                : 342
                Faculty of Law, University of Technology Sydney , Ultimo, NSW, Australia
                Author notes

                Edited by: Damian Maye, University of Gloucestershire, United Kingdom

                Reviewed by: Jennifer Atchison, University of Wollongong, Australia; Andrew Donaldson, Newcastle University, United Kingdom

                *Correspondence: Sophie Riley sophie.riley@ 123456uts.edu.au

                This article was submitted to Veterinary Humanities and Social Sciences, a section of the journal Frontiers in Veterinary Science

                Copyright © 2019 Riley.

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

                : 10 September 2018
                : 20 December 2018
                Page count
                Figures: 0, Tables: 0, Equations: 0, References: 49, Pages: 14, Words: 13503
                Veterinary Science

                free-roaming cats,tnr,enemy of the rabbit,lethal measures,biosecurity


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