Senator pushes for Quolls to replace cats as pets

Discussion in 'Reptile News' started by RoryBreaker, Mar 18, 2015.

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  1. RoryBreaker

    RoryBreaker Well-Known Member

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    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-03-18/leyonhjelm-pushes-for-quolls-to-replace-cats-as-pets/6329674

    This Senator has said some crazy stuff in the recent past but this might be the first elected representative to say this sort of thing publicly.

    "He cited examples overseas of sugar gliders and blue tongue lizards living longer in captivity than the wild.
    Senator Leyonhjelm said the native animals would "need to be bred as pets".
    He also noted that Australians can legally own a number of pets that kill native animals."

    Doesn't look like the Greens are on board though.
     
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2015
  2. spud_meister

    spud_meister Active Member

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    Quolls only live for around 5 years. Theoretically, it's a good idea, but realistically it wouldn't work.
     
  3. wokka

    wokka Guest

    It sounds quite realistic to me!
     
  4. glebo

    glebo Not so new Member

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    The whole idea has been articulated for the past 20 years from Prof. Mike Archer and others, and even been the subject of PhD theses. Unfortunately most people still think that Governments protect everything from Green frogs to Oenpelli pythons through parks and permits. The way the world is going that kind of belief has to be broken down and shown to, in many instances, be wrong. Recent extinctions on Christmas Island of a bat and reptiles, and elsewhere show this. I was at the Vic Reptile expo last weekend and in my talk on the Oenpelli python story, as I have many times, I pointed out that so many people who keep reptiles are keeping a very recently protected wild animal (only a few generations in captivity). It is giving the keeper skills that are directly transferable with time and increased skill level to be able to keep and maintain animals that are heading down the extinction trail. With these skills and belief in a different way of looking at things we can actually work with authorities to conserve OUR wildlife not just have some faceless and unaccountable Government person tell us we have lost another species without a fight - all because we werent allowed to help. Budgies are native and kept around the world - dont even need a permit because no-one is worried about them going extinct and now they cant as they are everywhere. Im not advocating anyone be allowed to keep everything - that wont happen anyway, but I think there is a whole heap more we can do cooperatively with Government Authorities if given the chance to help and be seen as a useful resource that can maintain native wildlife, instead of the way the authorities seemed to view reptile keepers at the Victorian Expo. This means keeping some simple to keep animals including mammals as pets and who knows it may just work to conserve our native willdife in a way that many Governments believe it wont - just need to think laterally. It wont happen quickly but it is up to us all to keep believing in ourselves and push to make it happen - our wildlife depend on it!!
    Cheers
    Gavin Bedford
     
  5. RoryBreaker

    RoryBreaker Well-Known Member

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    Are you referring to the draconian way he authorities harassed the vendors of live animals at the VHS expo? I heard on the grapevine no less than 15 uniformed 'parks' people plus some plain clothes types were bringing on the heat.

    What was the go with that? I'm guessing the show of force was an effort to impress their new political masters, ie. the new Victorian state gov. Maybe I'm a little too cynical.

    cheers,
    Dave.
     
  6. Firedrake

    Firedrake Well-Known Member

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    I'd love to have a quoll instead of cats, but are they capable of being as affectionate as cats? Only ones I've ever seen are extremely aggressive and I have a feeling it would take a while to breed them tame enough for your regular family to handle.
    Plus what are the chances of them ending up everywhere as well and ending up as bad as cats?
    Bandicoots might be a better idea?
     
  7. glebo

    glebo Not so new Member

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    I was amazed that there were so many authorities there and werent, that I could see, engaged in a PR exercise. I would like to think that they were there so that people could see they liked the idea of people keeping reptiles and that they could engage in a way that mutually beneficial. Maybe they were but the response I got from the many people I spoke to didnt suggest that unfortunately. I live in Darwin and am grateful that the Parks and Wildlife people are in the main very progressive and able to engage such that we can achieve things. The Oenpelli project which to many states would NEVER, i repeat, NEVER happen, was only possible because P&WNT could see it had more benefits than negatives. If only that thinking transferred elsewhere. Keep on trying though! Loved to see the passion that Victorians had for the Expo and the reptiles there. The hobby will grow in spite of opposition, we are no longer 'fringe dwellers' (their words not mine), we are becoming mainstream pet owners - as we should.
    Cheers
    Gavin Bedford
     
  8. moosenoose

    moosenoose Legendary

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    Typical of the bloody Greens to oppose it. If the Greens are the great white hope for animals and conservation in general - god help them!

    Of course allowing the public to obtain these animals can be open for abuse, but just keep the regs & conditions tight. We've all seen the positives for vulnerable species of reptiles within this hobby, why not extend it to other animals that require help?
     
  9. Bluetongue1

    Bluetongue1 Guest

    Some relevant quotes, which are worth a read, from an interview with Mike Archer...

    ?In the time that I have been associated with Australian mammals, I have kept many that were brought to me that were commonly damaged by pussy cats. In fixing them up, I often took them home, where they lived with me as they healed, and by far the majority bonded very strongly with me and were wonderful companions? more rewarding in many ways than cats and dogs. Quolls, for example, were obsessive users of kitty litter, loved to play and remained playful like kittens through their life. Unfortunately, legal restrictions enable us to breed cats ? which I regard as an immoral exercise ? but we risk fines if we keep native animals. I think this is a balance that the Australian society should re-examine.?

    ?If we do not value Australian wildlife in many different ways, we will lose it. One way among many to value wildlife is to consider keeping native animals as pets ? in particular the ones most in danger of extinction through reliance on current methods which may prove inadequate. I like to think of the effort to conserve Australia's animals as being similar to a golfer's challenge in winning a game. If the golfer puts just one club in his bag, he is unlikely to win. Conservationists too need many strategies in their bag if they are serious about winning conservation goals. These strategies are entirely compatible, it needn't be just one or the other.?

    ?It [keeping native animals] also engages and inspires interest in native animals in our children. At the moment, Australian children are far more aware of cats and dogs than they are of any Australian marsupial. If these kids are not committed to the welfare of Australian animals in the future, what hope is there??

    Source:http://sixtyminutes.ninemsn.com.au/webchats/263755/professor-mike-archer-on-animal-extinction

    Blue
     
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  10. kingofnobbys

    kingofnobbys Suspended Banned

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    IMO it's an excellent idea. There are other marsupials as well as quolls that would make great domestic pets rather than cats. (Some of which are critically endangered cf cats (not just ferals)).
     
  11. Firedrake

    Firedrake Well-Known Member

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    I hope this comes through in my lifetime, if quolls (and other native species) really do make good pets.
    On the other hand, keeping Aussie natives seems like good idea, but would it then leave the species subject to our humanity? We fiddle and "fix" animals that don't meet our standards of perfection. Would it then move onto hybridisation and colour morphs or certain "lines" of quolls? I understand this sounds awfully extreme, but it's happened in so many animals that we take it upon ourselves to domesticate. Cats that have no nasal functionality, dogs that have congenital hip and skin problems, breeds that require C-sections for every litter, snakes with neuro issues, the list goes on. We voluntarily keep, breed and even pay a fortune for defective animals that are "pretty" I would be afraid that our natives would go the same way.
    Having said that, I'd still love to own one :p
     
  12. kingofnobbys

    kingofnobbys Suspended Banned

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    Edit : MOST of which are critically endangered cf cats

    just a clarification.

    - - - Updated - - -

    See http://www.wildthings.org.au/files/8013/3696/8385/Final_Report.pdf , page 11 AND 12 for list of natives some people can keep as pets / companion animals , I imagine this list could easily be expanded to include keeping endangered species under a licence as pets and to breed (with perhaps mandatory return of some/most offspring to wild to establish breeding colonies and to repopulate areas where they used to be found and but are now extinct locally).

    Heck we all keep lizards and snakes , none of which are "affectionate" as cats , though , all my lizards (skinks and beardies) are pretty darned affectionate. I'm sure plenty sure a lot of us have affectionate reptiles.
     
  13. Sean_L

    Sean_L Not so new Member

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    [MENTION=28495]Firedrake[/MENTION]
    You brought up exactly the issue I was going to bring to the table.
    I love the idea of native mammals as 'pets'. But the definition is tricky. Experienced keepers breeding and maintaining captive populations of threatened species is something that I've long been an advocate for. However there is a difference between keeping a kowari (something Id love to keep) as a pet and keeping a captive population. I know many people have the opinion that there is little to no difference, in that when you keep an animal in a captive setting it is inherently different to a wild animal as a direct result. And indeed there is truth to this statement.
    Extreme examples of captive rearing in species such as Condors and some species of endangered stork involve minimal (if any) contact with humans in order to preserve the wild nature of the species, with a view to releasing the animals in question. This is extremely time consuming and diverts a great deal of energy into a small number of animals.
    If we take a step back and instead look at quantity over quality, then perhaps a large number of individuals keeping native mammals in a more recreational sense is still in some way beneficial. A lot of the time, for me anyway, it comes back to the sheer fact that by the time many of these species are stable in captivity and times have changed to a point where something can be gained from the whole exercise, most of the habitat that these animals could be released back into will be completely destroyed or damaged irreparably by introduced flora and fauna that have gained a foothold and reformed the ecosystem to suit themselves. Point being, there will be no where to release these animals anyway.
    In my opinion this doesn't draw from the positives of an initiative such as this. I personally believe that even with no hope of a species ever being returned to its original habitat, because that habitat no longer exists, there is still merit in continuing its existence on this planet. Whether it be for personal enjoyment, scientific benefit or more simply the preservation of life equally as unique as our own, a multitude of flora and fauna on this planet will always be better than a stagnant, shallow pond of invariability.

    But back to my original statement. I think a line has to be drawn in the sand even at the recreational level. I feel this should be the case for reptiles also, but that's another thread. Designer species are not my cup of tea. Lets just get that out in the open. Id rather any morelia sp. over an albino any day of the week, and a patternless 'anything' takes away from what makes the species beautiful to me in the first place. But that's ok, each to their own. If though, we want to be taken seriously when it comes to a public conservation initiative we need to put in a place a set of standards to maintain a species viability in captivity, as a representative of the wild species itself. Im not suggest that we outlaw selective breeding for morphs, merely separate it from the conservation effort. Put in place a series of guidelines and rules in order to (as best as possible) maintain reasonable and responsible actions regarding the treatment of these species in captivity. In short, keep them as natural as possible through selective and monitored breeding practices with other keepers.

    If this seems too complicated for the average keeper, well, that's kind of the idea. Do I believe that just anybody can keep native mammals and have it benefit the species. No I don't. Do I believe that only those who can benefit the species should have the right to keep one. No I don't. But I do feel there's a difference there that would need to be addressed in order to gain maximum benefit from this concept.
     
  14. Firedrake

    Firedrake Well-Known Member

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    Definitely would have to be kept separate, although the regulation of such would be quite difficult I feel. Maybe there could be a registry and stud book effect and you can register as a "natural" breeder, or someone breeding for the modified pet trade, or as a pet owner only? That way there is choice.

    Also this time start before things get out of hand and make solid enforced rules somewhat like the ones we already have for our reptiles about desexing, microchipping, registration for pets, and perhaps confinement, since we know how hard it is to make cat owners keep their pets inside or in runs when they've never had to before, start at the beginning so things don't have to be difficult!
     
  15. BrownHash

    BrownHash Well-Known Member

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    I feel that the idea has some merit, but I don't believe that it is really a solution to the destruction of our environment and protection of endangered species. My first thought was; how long before people will be owning leucistic T+ albino 66% melanistic tiger quoll x chuditch hybrids, and how much benefit to the survival of the species will this have? If this is going to happen I believe, as suggested by [MENTION=40131]Sean_L[/MENTION], that the public conservation initiative needs to be separated from private ownership of native fauna. How they do this and maintain the integrity of such a program, I don't know, but obviously this needs to be explored. The Oenpelli project may be a good case study in the effectiveness of these sorts of programs.

    I also don't think that it will have a positive impact on our native fauna's main threat, habitat destruction. Introduced animals have little impact compared to the threat of habitat destruction. If we remove the threat to the "cute and cuddly" mascots of environmental issues then where does it leave the rest of its ecosystem. Developers and government will push for there being less need to protect habitat, which will then put more pressure on other species, especially species already under threat. The Greens made the statement that they see this as an attack on National Parks, which I kind of agree with. I would think that the number of quolls already in captivity would be sufficient enough to stop them from going extinct. I guess that the government is also looking a ways to save money, if they get the public to keep and breed native animals they wont have to allocate as much money to zoos and parks for breeding programs.

    Any conservation achieved will only work for a few of our threatened species. Who, when reading this article thought, "Cool, hopefully this will mean that I can keep and breed Glenelg Freshwater Mussels like I've always wanted". I realise that Senator Leyonhjelm knows this, but I don't think he has considered the effect on less favourable animals that depend on the publicity and umbrella protection they get from sharing habitat with fauna like the quoll.

    Having said this, I think having native fauna as pets is a good idea, it just need to remove it from the idea that it will be contributing to the conservation of that species. Having worked with quolls I definitely see the appeal, they are inquisitive little characters that would make a great pet. Their impact on the natural environment as a domesticated pet will be far less than that of cats. In addition it is likely to increase awareness of our natural fauna.

    Mike
     
  16. glebo

    glebo Not so new Member

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    "I realise that Senator Leyonhjelm knows this, but I don't think he has considered the effect on less favourable animals that depend on the publicity and umbrella protection they get from sharing habitat with fauna like the quoll."

    If the quoll is on its way out, as it is if you live in the Northern Territory, then isnt sharing its habitat with many other species almost like a mutual death sentence to them all? Up here so many mammals are in deep depths of decline and they DO live in parks, so im struggling to see how thinking outside the box like keeping some as pets will facilitate a quicker decline in all the animals concerned. I agree with both Sean and Mike in many aspects but I feel like we are all brainwashed to believe that the problem is someone else's not ours. In my mind they are all our animals (held as a public good by Governments) yet with all the Parks authorities good intentions and capacity (declining as always due to funding constraints because most other aspects in human endeavour are more important than spending on the environment) the animals are declining and in some instances in Northern Australia a number of species may already be functionally extinct. I tend to see opposition on the grounds of inbreeding, hybridising and a myriad other excuses as the 1% chance of each happening and this then becomes the justification to sit on our hands, as well as again be dictated to as to how our wildlife should leave the planet and who isnt responsible for their demise. Instead I would rather be proactive and take the 99% option of ensuring the species is not extinct and then work on what to do with it. I have done enough on repatriation of wildlife to know it is a tough gig, with failure the norm. But the more we do it in a controlled way with cooperation on all sides the more we have the chance to get it right. If we just say - "all animals returned to a block of dirt where they once were but are not now are destined to die", then we have already given up trying to make a difference in their survival and then there is probably no reason not to keep mammals in captivity anyway - just to look pretty. Doing something to help our wildlife survive in the wild takes more than procrastination, and I can see many benefits from us keeping any native animal as a pet as opposed to the usual imported pets we do keep, because if you have never kept one - you dont get it. This then puts you in a poor position for understanding the requirements and constraints of a native pet. A bit like men discussing the pains of childbirth!!
     
  17. Bluetongue1

    Bluetongue1 Guest

    The Greens? environment spokesperson (Senator Larissa Waters) is actually not too wrong in saying that Senator Leyonhjelm?s statement was ?an attack on our national parks?. However, this 'attack' was not simply a bludgeoning of the role of national parks. It was, instead, a much needed wake-up call . The harsh reality is that a great many of our native species, including those occupying pristine habitat within the boundaries of national parks and reserves, are currently in serious decline and seem headed inexorably towards extinction. The decision makers need to alter their misguided beliefs that the national parks and reserves system is an effective solution for conserving all flora and fauna held within. The facts say different! Clearly we need to implement other conservation strategies in addition (and sooner rather than later) if we are to have any chance what-so-ever of defraying the current widespread wave of looming extinctions. Professor Archer, both in the interview and otherarticles, is saying exactly this - though perhaps with a little more tact than Senator Leyonhjelm.


    It is a sad fact of life that a majority of politicians are not familiar with the facts ? both the serious major declines of a large range of wildlife, including within the boundaries of national parks and reserves, or of the suitability of many native animals to being raised in captivity and even as domestic pets. Yet in their blissful ignorance, many continue to maintain inappropriate attitudes, to spruke incorrect rhetoric and to make poor, uniformed decisions - all of which have far-reaching effects on the future of our wildlife (and our native flora). ...hops off soapbox...

    If you examine ANY single conservation strategy in isolation, then you would conclude every time that it cannot work. There is a reason for this... the complexities of the problems facing our wildlife require a multi-pronged (complex) approach if there is to be any chance of ultimate success (to whatever degree). So instead of automatically branding an individual strategy as useless or bound to fail, based on face value, it needs to be considered in the boader context of being implemented as just one part of a number of simultaneous strategies, some of which may well be interim measures only.

    This is the same point that those truly knowledgable and truly concerned about what is happening in our national parks and reserves, are trying to make with those entrusted with yhe regulation of conservation. These decision makers need to acknowledge that ?locking up tracts of suitable habitat? is not the stand-alone panacea of conservation that it was once believed to. They need to acknowledge that this stategy is failing to conserve a very significant number species that it was designed to protect and maintain. This does not mean the reserves system is not working at all. It still has an integral on-going role to play. But because it is clearly not working for all species nor that it is not import on-going role toplay. Because it is not working for some of the species it is suppose to afford protection, then clearly we need more strategies than just this one.

    Some of the suggested alternative strategies will only work in the short-term. But they can buy time to develop longer-term, sustainable solutions, before it is too late. So they should not be summarily dismissed as ultimately useless. They should be seen for what they are - important and much needed interim measures.

    In order to achieve any real long-term success, there are some very major changes required. This makes for a truly daunting task. It may often seems virtually intractable. However, I believe this is never reason enough to adopt a pessimistic fatalistic outlook and succumb to frequently espoused credo of ?give up now because we cannot hope to succeed?? I doubt that such ?doomsday prophets? will ever be in short supply. It is easy to make excuses and to just roll over and capitulate when your are battling against the odds. But surely it is better to ultimately fail trying, then not to try at all and fail?


    Bear in mind that every little bit helps. By embracing each new piece of the puzzle, no matter how small a part of the ultimate solution, then, and only then, do we have a chance at truly solving the problems. The yet to be discovered or invented 'pieces' may make it currently impossibleto see any final solution at all... but does that equate to there being no solution?

    Blue
     
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  18. kingofnobbys

    kingofnobbys Suspended Banned

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    I'd be 100% opposed to breeders monkeying about with these animals through selective breeding to create animals you would never find in nature purely to attract a premium price for their so-called special "products. IMO too much of that already occurs with cats, dogs, chickens, lizards and snakes.
     
  19. Firedrake

    Firedrake Well-Known Member

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    Yes, as am I, because I 100% detest what humans have done to most captive species, but it's human nature to want the biggest and the best, and unfortunately the second you put a price on anything, someone is going to want the version one step up from that. Since we KNOW the human way, it's better to plan for the worst and not have it come to that, than to expect everything to work perfectly and be completely unprepared when things go pear-shaped.

    I don't believe having natives as pets will be something that can save them in the wild, nor will those animals be any use being released since there won't be any habitat for them to survive in, but at the least we can start a real proper cull on non-native pests and the wound will be bandaged with the introduction of a new unique fluffy pet that isn't likely to take over the world, and we get the bonus of saving a species from total extinction. I mean how cool would it have been if we'd been able to keep the tassie tiger alive, even if there were only captive species left and we couldn't release them?

    There's always someone who wants a "true to original form" animal, so along with being turned into different breeds or morphs, there will always be the "purists" to make sure there are some original type animals left of a species.
    Something I've always wondered, where are the "natives" of the species canis familiaris? What did their true original form look like?
     
  20. hulloosenator

    hulloosenator Active Member

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    lets all keep Quolls ...... soon there will be thousands in captivity - thriving like mad.
    But out in the wild - they will have become extinct , due to the domestic cat becoming so feral that all Quoll are wiped out .
    Then , when our Quolls start escaping or we release them into the wild due to huge licensing fees they might just start to wipe out the feral cat into extinction - Karma ! hahahaha
     
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