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Australia War On Cats Begins As Government Plans To Cull Two Million Feral Felines

19/07/2015 12:09 BST | Updated 19/07/2015 13:59 BST

Australian authorities are planning to kill as many as two million cats over the next five years to try to protect endangered birds and mammals.

The country's government will cull two million feral felines by 2020.

Australian environment minister Greg Hunt said that the scheme was necessary to preserve species facing extinction.

He said: "We are drawing a line in the sand today which says, 'On our watch, in our time, no more species extinction.”

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Two million cats will be culled by 2020

He added: "By 2020, I want to see 2 million feral cats culled, five new islands and 10 new mainland 'safe havens' free of feral cats, and control measures applied across 10 million hectares.”

The cats will be put down in as "humane and effective" a manner as possible, which could involve baiting, shooting and poisoning.

According to the Independent, all of the country’s states and territories have designated feral cats as “pests”.

Australia’s environment department says that feral cats have been identified as a threat to 35 species of birds, 36 mammals, 7 reptiles and 3 amphibians.

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It said: "Cats have probably contributed to the extinction of many small to medium-sized mammals and ground-nesting birds in the arid zone, and seriously affected bilby, mala and numbat populations. In some instances, feral cats have directly threatened the success of recovery programs for endangered species.

Gregory Andrews, the country's first threatened-species Commissioner, said that the problem had gone unchecked for too long.

He told Australia’s ABC programme: “It's very important to emphasis too that we don't hate cats. We just can't tolerate the damage that they're doing anymore to our wildlife.”

Many people spoke out against the planned cull on Twitter…