Australia Gun Culture (Part 7): The Feral Predator Problem

By Dean Weingarten

Australian Predator Problem
Dean Weingarten
Dean Weingarten

Arizona -( Australia has a feral predator problem. Feral dogs and dingo/feral mixtures kill large numbers of lambs and calves. They predate on native species.

But as bad as feral dogs and dingo/feral mixes are, the top predator in most places is the feral cat. Exotic foxes, that were imported from England are considered pests.

Restrictions on gun ownership and hunting have made the feral predator problem worse.  The government could encourage people to carry rifles and shoot feral predators.

Instead, the government puts out 1080 ejector capsules. When an animal pulls at the bait, the spring loaded ejector propels the poison capsule into the animals mouth. Death comes quickly.

Professional hunters also cull wild dogs. To hunt feral dogs, feral cats, or foxes on public land requires a restricted hunting license in New South Wales. It takes a bit more effort than a general license, but is available to those who take a test and belong to an approved hunting organization.

Tom Varney was a legendary wild dog hunter in Australia.

Feral cats are extremely destructive to Australian wildlife. The ejector capsules do not work with them. Shooters are encouraged to reduce the feral cat population whenever possible.

Threatened Species Commissioner Gregory Andrews said the cull, which goes until 2020, did not target domestic cats, nor was driven by bloodlust.

“They are the single biggest threat to our native animals, and have already directly driven into extinction 20 out of 30 mammals lost,” he said.

“We are not culling cats for the sake of it, we are not doing so because we hate cats.

“We have got to make choices to save animals that we love, and who define us as a nation like the bilby, the warru (Black-footed rock-wallaby) and the night parrot.”

Members of the Eykamp family told me that local hunters had some success in baiting and shooting feral cats.

Feral cats are said to kill up to a thousand native animals apiece each year.  One feral cat was confirmed to have killed 102 bats in one week.  Shooters who are helping to control feral cats in Australia say that the .22 rimfire can work, but more powerful calibers work better.


Feral cats can be tough to eradicate so with a .22 rimfire close in shots are best and shots to the head or neck with high velocity .22 ammo are recommended. I have witnessed the Editor put a .22 LR High Velocity HP into the chest of a feral cat marauding around a warren from 30 metres and it ran away to be unrecoverable.

Depending on the size of property for the reason of safety, the .223 and other similar centrefire calibers will do a good humane job on feral cats. Also the fox whistle and predator type callers can help in attracting the feral cat and also glassing around rabbit warrens can be productive in finding them in the first place.

Natural selection seems to be favoring larger feral cats.


“There’s no question there is a selection for bigger cats,” he said.

“The bigger a cat is, the more likely it is to survive in the wild and catch prey which means it is more likely to be successful at breeding.”

He said other factors such as the animals feral cats eat and their movements probably didn’t have as much of an impact.

“I think it’s got to be genetic,” he said.

A large feral cat in Gippsland was projected to be 170 cm long, or five and a half feet, long, including 60 cm or two feet, of tail. The record length for a domestic cat was claimed to be 121.9 cm.  The head of the Gippsland specimen was destroyed in the accident that killed the animal.

Foxes can be a problem for farmers, and are often shot in populated areas. They kill many native animals.

Feral predators are a large problem in Australia. In America, before 1960, there were bounties placed on animals that caused problems.  Encouragement of widespread gun ownership and the hunting of pests can be part of the solution to feral and exotic pests in Australia.

©2017 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.


Link to Gun Watch


About Dean Weingarten:

Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of constitutional carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and recently retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.

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The Blunt Bushman

In Australia ejector capsules are rarely used, most Government baits are just dried meat baits injected with 1080. 1080 poisoning is one of the cruellest and prolonged methods you can use to kill an animal. It is a slow death lasting for many hours. In Western Australia authorities have always maintained that our states wildlife are a lot more tolerant to the use of 1080, yet its use is still being widely used throughout Australia. The truth is most meat baits are taken by none targeted wildlife and it’s not the first time it has been proven. I have known… Read more »


1080 is as dangerous as it gets. There are areas where the marking is sparse and a dog was killed and it’s owner almost killed when the dog saw the bait tab and pulled on it. The dogs owner was close by and the 1080 gas (sodium isofluoroacetate)blew into him and almost killed him. It is an indiscriminate killer. It kills dogs, big cats, cattle, everything and everyone.

joe martin

Where I grew up in rural Arkansas we had a feral dog problem from people dumping dogs “in the country”. The dogs, like in Australia, ran in packs and killed deer and any smaller animals they ran across and often attacked livestock. The solution we used was not poison, but shooting them. The PETA nitwits and animal rights morons will have a fit to learn of this, but even in rural Texas a few years ago it was, and still is, common practice to shoot feral dogs running loose. As a point of interest, Wyatt Earp, while sheriff in Kansas,… Read more »

Wild Bill

martin, where did you read about Wyatt Earp making more money shooting stray dogs than from his salary? I’d like to read that, too/

joe martin

It was quite a while ago, but it may have been in, “The Last Gunfight” or “Wyatt Earp; The Life Behind the Legend”, but most likely in a publication I have around here on the history of Dodge City published by the Ford County Historical Society. I thought at the time, and still do, that it was an interesting bit of trivia that there were so many stray dogs at the time that the city/county made shooting them a duty of the law enforcement officers with a separate payment in addition to their salaries.

Wild Bill

Thanks Joe, for the reference.

Wild Bill

I prefer to think of dumped dogs as assets. The people of rural east Texas have been very generous about sharing their animals with me. My, four, older dogs live in the house. They corroborate the findings of the outside the house (but still inside the perimeter fence) security staff of three. Then I have the rangers. They don’t prefer to be owned. I put collars, and flea collars on them. I also feed them at breakfast and supper. The rest of the time they are on patrol. Cheap wages for the lot of them. Replacing them with human staff… Read more »


Just got Harley back from the vet today. She had surgery yesterday. Vet said as soon as I walked in the door and she heard my voice (she was all the way in the back) she started whining and crying. First time we’ve been separated overnight in the 8 years I’ve had her. It was very strange not having a doggy in the house last night. First time that’s happened in more than 11 yrs.


I understand what you mean. I have not been without a dog for many years. I wish they lived to be more than 10 to 20 years old. The last two we rescued from the Humane Society and they are very good dogs and seem to appreciate the fact that they have a home. One was about two when we got her and she shows that someone spent time training her. The other one was about five weeks old and we raised her to be a spoiled brat, but they are both good watch dogs. No matter how bad a… Read more »

Wild Bill

@OV, tomcat, V40 and all the other folks out there that are smart enough to form an unbeatable team: Cheers!


thats all fine and dandy that you take in and make good use of someone else’s dumped dogs. But you are the exrremely rare exception. I bought my place (a semi-rural five acre plot) 30 years ago and it was infested with feral cats. They’d invade the house, spook whenver they saw me (I’d never made a move against them) were killing the pheasant and qualt on the property, and many of the songbirds that are so much fun. I finally realised they weren’t neighbours’ pets, but ferals breeding out in the back section across the ditch. They were pretty… Read more »


1080 has long been illegal to use in the USA. It causes a violent and inhumane death. PETA should go after the anti-gunners for causing such suffering for animals!


don’t hold your breath.. PETA are harsher against humans with guns and the self control to use them selectively than they are against any poison. And certainly against any feral pet problems.