With the Johnny Depp dog-killing brouhaha still fresh in all of our minds, the Australian government has set its murderous sights on another animal: the feral cat.
Last week, environment minister Greg Hunt announced a $6.6 million action plan to assist Australia's threatened flora and fauna.
An estimated 20 million feral cats across the country kill native Australian wildlife in large numbers, Hunt said.
"Over time, plants and animals that once thrived on our continent have been pushed to the brink," he said. "We need to step in, for their sake and for ours."
The multi-million dollar government plan involves wiping out two million feral cats by 2020, as well as establishing feral-cat free havens and control measures across the country.
And now, French film star and animal rights activist Brigitte Bardot has waded into the debate, urging Greg Hunt to back down.
In an open letter, Bardot implores Hunt to set up a "vast sterilisation campaign" instead.
"Killing cats in order to protect other species is scandalous," wrote Bardot.
"Your country is sullied by the blood of millions of innocent animals so please, don't add cats to this morbid record."
Bardot said neutering cats on a mass scale was the only effective way of lowering numbers.
"This animal genocide is inhumane and ridiculous. In addition to being cruel, killing these cats is absolutely useless since the rest of them will keep breeding," she said.
The government's plan received a mixed response from Australian conservation and animal rights groups.
Kelly O'Shanassy, the CEO of the Australian Conservation Foundation, described the four action areas outlined by Hunt – tackling feral cats, providing safe havens for species at risk, improving habitats and intervening to avert extinctions – as "commendable".
However, O'Shanassy said there were some shortfalls, including a lack of funding.
"The strategy also fails to meaningfully address the biggest threat to threatened species and ecological communities – the loss and fragmentation of habitat," she said.
Various animal rights groups, including Animals Australia and PETA, have condemned the cat-culling plan.
Lane Sainty is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Sydney, Australia.
Contact Lane Sainty at email@example.com.
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