Saturday 12 March 2011

The battle between bird conservationists and cat lovers

Photo copyright Stockxpert

There is a long standing battle going on between bird conservationists and cat lovers and it is the bird conservationists who instigated the war. The cat people are simply defending their position and the cat.

I find it shocking, actually. Bird conservationists should be animal lovers or at least people interested in the wider picture of wildlife conservation and the respect and welfare of all animals.

But it appears to me that they appear to be massaging data and figures (or have been careless) to support their desire to eradicate or kill the feral and stray cat - they would call it "euthanize" but this is incorrect. This is by implication the case because trap-neuter-return is not working on a wide scale due to a lack of funding. Either they are massaging figures or they are making unreasonable assumptions as to domestic cat predation.

I know that I have used provocative words but that seems to me to be the case. I see this on the internet quite a lot.

I have written about this before:

I was prompted to write this because of an article ("the article") by the Smithsonian Institution that reported on a research study “Population demography of Gray Catbirds in the suburban matrix: Sources, sinks and domestic cats,” authored by Anne L. Balogh, Thomas B. Ryder, and Peter P. Marra.

In the article they say that 80% of urban dwelling fledgling Grey Catbirds (a medium-sized northern American perching bird of the mimid family) are killed by predators before adulthood. They say that "Nearly half (47 percent) of the deaths were attributed to domestic cats in Opal Daniels and Spring Park."

The 47% figure comes from an assessment that 16 out of 34 birds where killed by cats. However a commentator - Peter J. Wolf - says they have distorted the original report. The original report says that 9 birds that were killed were attributed to cat predation and of those only 6 were observed. The remaining three were assumed to be killed by cats because of the nature of the remains of the birds. But apparently other wild animals kill birds and leave similar remains such as owls and magpies.

In addition the gray squirrel which is much more abundant than the cat in the area surveyed and which is classified as a "potential nest predator”, was not mentioned in the report.

It seems to me that as this misinformation about the impact of the domestic and feral cat on bird populations has occurred on a number of occasions, I am being reasonable in saying that there appears to be a deliberate attempt by bird conservationists to criticise the cat which is resulting in a sort of battle going on between the bird conservationists and people who keep cats and indeed decent people interested in truth. This battle is sometimes played out in court.

I understand and sympathize with the bird conservationists but we are all interested in the same thing, surely. We want to support the welfare of animals. We don't do that by fighting each other and trying to exterminate the cat, the innocent victim of irresponsible behavior by people.

Bird conservationists should stop making "assumptions" about mortality rates of fledgling birds. Another well know assumption was bandied around the internet for ages about the breeding capacity of the domestic cat. It was wildly exaggerated and the disseminated information hurt the cat. It promoted more cat killing either legal or illegal and sometimes you can't tell the difference (Fremont County Wyoming Sheriff Shoots Any Cat).

Let's get together, all of us, do proper, accurate well funded research, and act on it together, in a humane and decent way, in the interests of all life on the planet.

Michael Avatar

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1 comment:

  1. I agree. People should work together for all the animals including ourselves.


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