Wednesday, October 17, 2007

First Dogs, Now Cats

We are in the middle of a big rainstorm here, with all the cool audio/visual effects. A moment ago I went outside to check on the drainage, saw a brilliant flash, and heard an eardrum shattering thunderclap. That lightning strike was CLOSE!

Yesterday it was dogs, today it's cats. For the record I'm not a hater of either. I had a cat for years, despite being allergic, and if you've followed this blog you know we have a dog of sorts. He's a growly ill-tempered little bastard, but we love him just the same. As I see it the problems are really caused by people - irresponsible pet owners who dump their unwanted animals, or who allow their pets to roam and be a nuisance to others. Both situations harm wildlife. Feral cats in particular kill millions of songbirds each year.

From Rob Fergus at The Birdchaser blog I just found out that the City Council of Cape May, NJ, has voted unanimously to allow feral cat colonies within its city limits. If you are a birder I am sure you've heard of Cape May, one of the best places in America to see concentrations of migratory birds. It also has endangered Piping Plovers and Least Terns nesting on its beaches. The city's plan calls for "establishment of a 1,000-foot buffer zone between cat colonies and beach nesting areas of endangered birds."

I'm sure the cats will observe the ordinance and refrain from roaming within 1000 feet of the beaches. Pleeeeease!

Rob suggests some things that birders can do to get this decision overturned, including a possible boycott. Birders pump quite a bit of money into the local economy, and the threat of withholding those birder dollars might change some minds. Here is the comment I sent to the City of Cape May, NJ:

Cape May is visited by large numbers of bird lovers each year. How many come to see your feral cats? I'm betting somewhere in the vicinity of zero. Cats kill large numbers of birds. Allowing feral cat colonies to proliferate in an area of such importance to migratory birds is a shame and stupid as well. I for one will avoid Cape May as long as local government favors unwanted cats (nobody wants to take them home, right?) over our native birds. There are plenty of communities that value and take pride in their wildlife, places deserving of ecotourism. Too bad Cape May is opting not to be one.


At 5:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't see anybody taking birds home. Feral cats when feed do not kill birds. Get you information straight before you make comments.

At 5:53 PM, Blogger John said...

Of course nobody takes wild birds home - they are where they belong and nobody's claiming they are pets. Plus that would be illegal.

Cats are not part of our native fauna. They are domesticated or semi-domesticated animals. They are either pets or abandoned by their owners to live feral. A pet has an owner who has some responsibilty for it. A feral animal is one that people have abdicated responsibility for. If people really love these cats they would take them home and care for them, not leave them in a situation that is dangerous for them and destructive to wildlife.

Feral dog colonies would never be permitted to flourish - obvious problems would arise. The people who promote feral cats colonies mistakenly think cats are different, first denying that they present problems, and secondly assuming that they don't require responsible people to care for them.

If you are seriously suggesting that well fed cats don't hunt that's just silly. Cats continue to take prey whether fed or not. If you don't believe that then you need to get your facts straight -


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