An Australian experiment in carnivorous attraction
A parks department in Victoria, Australia is under investigation this week because supervisors finally noticed staff had been using the company credit card for non-parks-related activities. Concerning charges found on the statements include $347 at a jewelry store, $898 at a mountain bike shop, more than $5,000 at a Best Buy-esque home entertainment store, and thousands of dollars at a high-end hotel and spa. All of this seems like some pretty straightforward “we’re going to fire our dumb employees” stuff, but one part of the investigation really stands out to me.
The team also charged $260 at a local KFC over seven visits, and instead of being like, “Hey, we were hungry and got some team lunches,” they’ve made the genius claim that all of the chicken was used to address the nation’s feral cat problem.
According to the Guardian:
A senior Parks Victoria staff member, who did not wish to be named, explained to Guardian Australia that “KFC is widely known to be the most effective bait for luring feral cats”.
The genius of this is that Australia’s cat problem is very real—feral domestic cats were reported to “devour an estimated 75 million animals every day,” and had “wiped out about 28 native Australian species” as of 2015. So if these parks employees were, say, the kind of people who would use government funds in order to solve problems inside of the nation’s parks, they might ostensibly be spending on things like feral cat bait.
In supporting their claim, though, the team has had to make a case for why KFC is effective cat bait, which means that a bunch of Australian doctors and scientists are now weighing in on whether or not cats like fried chicken.
Dr. Alan Robley, a senior scientist with the Arthur Rylah Institute for environmental research in Victoria, explained that, “Fried chicken is included in the national guidelines for trapping feral cats and is used due to its scent and prolonged freshness.”
Dr. Christopher Dickman, a biologist and feral cat expert from the University of Sydney, confirmed “it is a popular bait with a strong aroma that is very attractive to carnivores.” But also, “There hasn’t been any data published on it so the information we have is anecdotal, but it does work for luring feral cats, though mainly in urban areas… Cats in remote areas are more suspicious of new foods, but cats in urban areas are more used to living close to KFC outlets and are familiar with the smell.”
So while that anonymous parks source might have been optimistic with the “widely known” part of their fried chicken explanation, it’s definitely about to be more widely known. Fried chicken: doctor and government-approved cat bait.