Anyone who is hoping it will actually investigate anything, interview their own staff who have seen these animals or accept any form of secondary evidence is delusional.
Why did they even pretend to bother .??
Department of Sustainability and Environment should hang this photo in their offices..
|victorian big cats|
LOCK up your moggies, people: the fat cats are on the hunt for the big cats.
Despite a warning that the mysterious panther-like creatures rumoured to be prowling around country Victoria probably do not exist, the state government has undertaken a bizarre search for the animals over the past few months.
It all started with a promise that Nationals leader Peter Ryan took to the 2010 state election.
But documents obtained by The Sunday Age reveal that since coming to office the government has been repeatedly warned it might be wasting its time. Yet some people still believe that the big cats lurk in areas such as Gippsland, the Grampians, Barwon or Beechworth.
In a January 2011 note to Agriculture Minister Peter Walsh, the Department of Primary Industries told the government there were many explanations, including sightings of large feral cats, incorrect identification of animals responsible for killing or maiming livestock, and ''interests in big cats by those persons reporting sightings.'' But in all likelihood, the department argues, reported sightings of big cats are just that - feral cats that had been established in the wild for many years, or the misidentification of black wild dogs, or even foxes.
''While there have been numerous claims of sightings of giant black cats the size of pumas or panthers, and even claims of killing of livestock by such animals, there has never been any tangible evidence produced to support any of these claims,'' says the department's advice, released under freedom-of-information laws. The documents are a potential embarrassment for the government, which has been accused of having poor priorities in regional Victoria, at a time when it is cutting public sector jobs, closing department office and slashing TAFE funding.
It will not say how much it is spending on the big cat hunt, but says it is within the department's budget and does not require more money.
Asked why he was still using resources searching for a big cat, given that his department had already warned him the elusive creatures probably don't exist, Mr Walsh said: ''The government made a pre-election commitment to examine this issue, and we are meeting that commitment with a desktop study.
''The work began in July, and the report should be available soon.''
But the opposition's agriculture spokesman, John Lenders, said the government's priorities were ''obscene.'' ''Just because Peter Ryan did a project about big cats in high school doesn't mean taxpayers' money should be spent on this,'' he said.