Feral Cats Are Running Wild in Australia, and the Government Is Trying to Get Rid of Them

File photo of feral cats
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The Australian government says feral cats threaten wildlife and native species.

Feral cats are running the streets of Australia, and the government wants to put a stop to it.

Cats were introduced to Australia by Europeans, possibly in the 1700s, CBS News reported. But the animals have run rampant since then. Now, there are about 2-6 million cats across Australia, CBS News reported, and the government says they threaten wildlife and native species. It is estimated that they helped lead to the extinction of 27 mammals.

So officials made a goal to kill 2 million feral cats by 2020. And they want to do it, in part, by baiting the animals with kangaroo meat sausages laced with poison. The sausages will be air-dropped into areas with a lot of cats, and the cats will reportedly die within 15 minutes of eating the bait.

Cats will also be trapped and shot, in some cases.

"The scientific evidence is unequivocal that feral cats are one of the greatest threats to Australia's land-based mammals," the government said in its "Threatened Species Strategy" plan. 

The plan, which was first announced in 2015, has no come without backlash. PETA Australia released information about the cats and Australia's plan, calling the poisoning of the animals "horrifically cruel."

However, The New York Times reported that PETA Australia PETA Australia has "recognized that feral cats hunted wildlife to a point at which species can no longer survive."