When the cat is away…
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, March 2007:
SYDNEY–Seven years after exterminators in June 2000 killed
the last feral cats on Macquarie Island, an Australian possession
within the Antarctic Circle, the island’s feral rabbit population
has soared from about 10,000 when the cat-killing began in the
mid-1980s to an estimated 100,000. “Rabbits are destroying Macquarie
Island’s fragile vegetation, causing erosion and exposure, which
threatens its seabirds,” University of Tasmania geographer Jenny
Scott warned in a report commissioned by Birds Australia.
The Australian federal government and state government of
Tasmania are now disputing over which is to pay the $15 million
(Australian) estimated cost of killing all the rabbits. “The last
supply boat of this season leaves Hobart in early April, so the two
sides need to come to a cost-sharing arrangement and get their people
and equipment on that boat,” World Wildlife Fund representative
Julie Kirkwood told Nick Squires of the South China Morning Post.
The plan to kill the rabbits is also supported by the
Australian Green Party.
Both cats and rabbits were apparently left on Macquarie
Island by whalers circa 1820. About 2,500 cats kept the rabbit
population in check, but were blamed for allegedly killing as many
as 60,000 sea birds per year.