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Should cats be culled to stop extinctions?

Scientists are calling for a widespread cull of feral cats and dogs, pigs, goats, and rats and mice to save the endangered species they prey upon.

Their eradication on more than 100 islands could save some of the rarest animals on Earth, says an international team.

Islands have seen 75% of known bird, mammal, amphibian and reptile extinctions over the past 500 years.

Many of the losses are caused by animals introduced by humans.

Not naturally present on islands, they can threaten native wildlife.

"Eradicating invasive mammals from islands is a powerful way to remove a key threat to island species and prevent extinctions and conserve biodiversity," said Dr Nick Holmes, from the group Island Conservation.

The study identified 107 islands where eradication projects could benefit 9.4% of the Earth's threatened island species.

The researchers argue the likes of feral cats are not of conservation concern, but the species they threaten are often found only on islands where the entire population is at risk of extinction.

Stuart Butchart, chief scientist at Birdlife International, said the action could save "extraordinary species that have evolved in isolation and are only found on these remote islands".

 

Lara Kh.