Tuesday 3 June 2014

Martha's Vineyard: Piping Plovers Are More Important Than the Cat

At Martha's Vineyard the free roaming domestic and stray cat appears to have less value than the threatened piping plover. The piping plover is a sparrow-sized shorebird.

Last season there was concern about the plover's mortality rate and the assessment was that the feral or domestic cat was responsible for three deaths.
Piping plover preyed on by cats in Martha's Vineyard. Photo: US Fish and Wildlife Service Northeast Region.

That is pretty much all you need to know.  This is a straight competition between the value of a bird in the value of a cat.  It appears that humankind wishes to intervene into what goes on in nature naturally.  Perhaps the underlying motivation for this is because the domestic cat is non-native to America whereas the plover is a native species as far as I am aware.

So people are trapping these cats.  They do the best they can with them to re-home and return them to their owners but I suspect that if this goes on for long at least some of them will end up at shelters and at least some of those cats will end up being euthanised for no good reason other than they were taken to the shelter by people who wanted to protect species of bird.

I see the dilemma.  It would seem that the answer as to what to do is based upon the value of each species as I said and the value of each species is dictated by factors such as whether the species is non-native or native to a country and whether the population is large or small.  The decision also depends on whether the population is growing or declining.  On all those criteria the bird comes out as more vulnerable and therefore people decided to protect it and where necessary sacrifice the more abundant and more able domestic, stray and feral cat.

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