Queensland (Australia) council stands by $10 bounty for adult feral cat scalps

A Queensland local council will not back down on a controversial bounty that offers $10 for the scalps of feral cats, despite animal rights activists calling it cruel and unnecessary.
 
Banana shire introduced the bounty last month, which offers $10 for the scalp of an adult feral cat, and $5 for a kitten. Feral cats are estimated to kill 750,000 birds a day in Australia, and council staff said the bounty came in response to “an exploding population” of feral cats hunting native wildlife.
 
But People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has mounted a campaign against the policy, targeting the small town of Biloela, the council’s headquarters.A Peta spokeswoman, Laura Weyman-Jones, said the bounty was “cruel” and would not solve the problem.

“Research tells us that lethal control doesn’t provide a long-term solution to the issue of invasive animal populations,” she said. “In fact, it can backfire by causing a spike in the food supply and prompt accelerated breeding.

“The only real solution to Australia’s feral cat problem is to embark on a widespread sterilsation campaign, where funds are directed towards immunocontraceptive solutions that will humanely and effectively decrease homeless cat populations.

“Not only is a cat scalp bounty cruel, it likely won’t have the desired long-term effect of lowering the population. Instead, we’ll end up in an endless and expensive killing cycle.”

But John McDougall, the director of council services, said any sterilisation needed to be combined with humane culling to be effective.

“I actually applaud Peta for their billboard,” he said. “It’s really around responsible pet ownership.

“I certainly have no problem with people who want to look at sterilising feral cats, but the problem is that it is almost impossible for a feral cat to turn into a domestic type cat. These cats are extremely aggressive; they’ve got an instinct in them now to want to hunt.

“The answer is more of a collective approach – combining sterilisation with the culling program. Even if we did sterilise all feral cats in our region, they’d still kill hundreds, if not thousands, of wildlife before the end of their life.”

McDougall said domestic cats were not in danger of being hunted because the bounty applied only to cats killed on rural properties.