In the arid country, feral cats and foxes reign. Photo: Simon Maisch

The shearwater washed ashore in big surf. Half-dead, perhaps from a long flight or failed fishing expedition, it staggered up the beach. Most of the other young ones had already taken wing, beginning the 16,000 km odyssey to Alaska’s Aleutian Islands. Their parents had already left weeks earlier, as the weather cooled in April. And now this young one was on its own, on a lonely beach on Phillip Island’s Cape Woolamai.

Well, almost alone. My 6-year-old son was watching eagerly. We had promised him the chance to see shearwaters migrating. But instead, he watched as other watchers moved in. Hulking Pacific gulls edged closer, cruel beaks open. He’d already seen the bodies of other shearwaters, stripped of flesh, seen the gulls waiting for the smaller birds to be washed ashore.

He screamed. “Save it Dad.” What could I do? Of course I had to. We were witnessing an act of predation. There were billions that we would never see. But this one we did. This one we could alter.

This is the intro to my long article on Australia’s lethal managerialism of feral cats and foxes – and the radical conservationists calling on us not to kill introduced predators. Are they right?

The rest is at Medium.

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