Australia has taken a page from President Donald Trump’s playbook, building a wall to protect threatened native species from an overwhelming population of feral cats. The cats, brought to Australia by the British, are now widespread across the entire continent.
Feral cats have become menaces all around the globe, accounting for the extinction of some 63 unique species of birds, mammals and reptiles in the last five centuries alone.
That problem is exacerbated in Australia, which is home to many unique species that cannot be found anywhere else in the world — and where there is approximately one feral cat every four square kilometers (every 1.5 square miles).
The Australian Wildlife Conservancy has tried to deal with the feral cats in the past, at one point even attempting to bait them with chicken from fast food chain KFC. AWC chief Attius Fleming explained that the fence was a last ditch effort to save native species while attempting to find a better way to control the feral cat population.
“Australia does not have an effective strategy for controlling cats. The only way we can save Australia’s most endangered animals is by establishing these massive feral cat-free areas using conservation fencing.”
The fence that was just completed this month covers 44 kilometers and is electrified, creating a protected area the size of a large airport. Other such conservation areas are in progress.
Australia struggles with feral populations of foxes and rabbits as well, but experts say that habitat destruction and climate change have also contributed to the extinction of some native animals.