Showing posts with label pests. Show all posts
Showing posts with label pests. Show all posts

Monday 4 December 2023

National Parks Service wants to get rid of the cats of Puerto Rico's historic seaside capital

NEWS AND COMMENT: I am going to stick my neck out and say that the National Park Service is incorrect in their reasoning in their desire to get rid of the stray cats that roam Puerto Rico's historic seaside capital. I'm told by The New York Post that there are about 200 of them and they have a long history.

A stray ginger tabby cat of the capital of Puerto Rico, a US administered territory.

It is said that they had descended from the colonial-era kittens. They are unique to San Juan according to Darnell Wakefield, a solar contractor who visits the cats every week. They love to see them along their walk. They say that it would be a boring walk without seeing the cats.

The cats occupy a 75-acre historic site surrounding the El Morro fortress home and have become part of the tourist landscape.

However, in going against the grain of popular opinion it seems to me, the National Park Service say that the cats spread diseases to people. They are a nuisance and "inconsistent with the cultural landscape".

They want to get rid of them all and have announced a six-month plan to trap the cats. A spokesperson said that: "visitors will benefit from the removal of a potential disease vector from the park".

A "disease vector"! Comment: they are incorrect. The possibility of a stray cat passing on a disease to a visitor is remote. There are very few zoonosis i.e. zoonotic diseases which can be transferred from cat to person. And, in any case, if you don't touch them there is no possibility.

The park service also states that the cats deposit urine and faeces around the place which is unhygienic et cetera. I would bet my bottom dollar that nobody sees faeces or urine.

It is common knowledge that stray cats at tourist locations enhance the location from the tourists' perspective. You will see stray cats in pretty well all the Mediterranean cities and towns and they remain there as a tourist attraction. Nobody complains about spreading disease.

The National Park Service superintendent said that: "The situation that these animals experience at the park, specifically at the Paseo del Morro, is not ideal for them and is inconsistent with National Park Service policies regarding the feeding of animals and invasive species."

That seems to me to be the voice of a person who doesn't like cats who wants to try and 'clean up the place'. The problem as I see it is that you can't simply just get rid of the cats because they return.

You have to tackle the so-called "feral cat problem" holistically. That means dealing with the source of stray cats which will be ultimately be irresponsible cat ownership. You have to educate people about cat ownership and caregiving. You have to ensure that there is no informal breeding of domestic cats in the area surrounding the targeted area.

My understanding is that they're going to try and trap them and then rehome them but no doubt there will be many who are euthanised. And simply killing stray cats does not work out well because you inevitably receive criticism from animal advocates and also inevitably cats gradually creep back into the cleaned up area and so you have to start again.

They will have to do something slightly different and I would suggest a fully funded TNR program over many years (a permanent program in fact) to gradually decrease the population size humanely. These cats are in a defined area and therefore a well-managed TNR program should be effective over time. It's going to require patience.

It may surprise some people to know that Puerto Rico is an American territory. It is a special sort of territory described as an unincorporated territory of the United States officially known as the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico
P.S. please forgive the occasional typo. These articles are written at breakneck speed using Dragon Dictate. I have to prepare them in around 20 mins.

Monday 24 April 2023

Rats as big as cats in the UK! Rat catching cats don't stand a chance.

To those of us living in the UK we are seeing more headlines about rats getting larger. They say they are as big as cats. If it's true there is little prospect of domestic cats being usefully employed as rat deterrents. Today's domestic cat ratter will just run away from these monsters.

Massive rat as big as a cat
Massive rat as big as a cat. Image by MikeB based on an image in the public domain.

But in general, I think they are mythical. People like to believe that they are very large. It adds to their story of woe. But if they are larger, it must be an evolutionary process over a very long time.

Animals may evolve to be larger over time as a result of natural selection. Larger individuals may have advantages in terms of survival and reproduction. For example, larger animals may be better able to defend themselves against predators, compete for resources, or attract mates. Additionally, larger size can confer other benefits, such as the ability to travel further or withstand harsh environmental conditions.

However, it's important to note that evolution is not always directional, and animals can also evolve to become smaller or stay the same size over time, depending on the specific environmental pressures they face. Furthermore, evolution is a slow process that occurs over many generations, and there are many factors that can influence the size of a species, such as the availability of resources, predation pressure, and climate change.

AI says this about rats getting larger

There have been reports in the media suggesting that rats in the UK are getting larger, but the evidence for this is mixed and controversial.

Some studies have suggested that rats in urban areas may be increasing in size due to factors such as access to more food and reduced predation pressure. However, other studies have found no evidence of size increase and suggest that the average size of rats in the UK has remained relatively constant over time.

It's important to note that size variation in rats can also be influenced by a number of other factors, including genetics, environmental conditions, and disease. Additionally, different rat populations may exhibit different size trends depending on their location and specific ecological conditions.

Overall, while there may be some evidence to suggest that rats in certain areas of the UK are getting larger, it's difficult to make generalizations about the entire population without more comprehensive data.

Cold climates

Normally animals of the same species living in cold climates are larger such as the puma in North America compared to the same species in South America.

The same difference applies to the tiger. The Siberian is larger than Bengal. The Sumatran is the smallest. Evolution ensures that the bigger animals can keep warmer because of an improved mass to surface area ratio.

This is supported by prey animals also being smaller in warmer climates which feeds into the evolutionary process ensuring that predators such as the tiger is smaller too.

On that basis rats in the UK may be getting bigger to keep warmer as it enhances survival and the evolutionary process is supported by the presence of abundant food supplies because of an increased human population in the UK.


The old idea that domestic cats are good at deterring and killing rats hardly applies today. Domestic cats are not great rat catchers. They can be intimidated by a big rat. 

They don't want to risk being injured so leave it alone. It depends on the individual cat. They may even run away from a marauding rat. Rats can be very aggressive and courageous. They are good predators themselves. They've been involved in the extinction of some species on islands.

GB's greatest rat catcher

The UK's greatest rat catching cat was a female living in and around the now non-existent White City Stadium. She is said to have killed no fewer than 12,480 rats in her life. A daily average of 5-6.

A formidable achievement which reflects the reason why the wildcat was domesticated in the first place around 10k years ago. They were utilitarian, working cats as well as companions.

Companions now

Domestic cats nowadays are almost exclusively companions and entertainers to their caregivers.

Tuesday 3 January 2023

Large feral (?) 'Siamese' cat in Australia trapped and killed causing an outcry from some sections of the community

A large feral cat in Australia has been trapped and killed causing an outcry from some sections of the community. But was the cat feral or an inside/outside domestic cat? It appears so.

Large feral cat in Australia trapped and killed causing an outcry from some sections of the community. Image: Daily Mail Australia.

Comment on the above photograph: I find it very strange. The comments on the right-hand side appear to be have been made by the owner of this 'feral cat'. That means that the cat is not feral but an outdoor/indoor domestic cat. And the person has described the cat as "Siamese". The cat does not look like a Siamese cat judging by the camera traps image. The cat does not have pointing but appears to be an even colour throughout. So, I'm not sure what is going on. And if this is the case the authorities have killed someone's pet! Damages come to mind. The owner should sue them.


I have followed the shenanigans and attitudes of the Australian authorities towards feral cats on the continent for years. It doesn't surprise me one jot that the authorities in charge of administrating Moreton Island off the coast of south-east Queensland decided to trap a so-called feral cat weighing 6.8 kg (15 pounds) and euthanise it (kill it). At least they didn't shoot it! That is the normal way for Australia's authorities to deal with feral cats.

Trapping and euthanising is way too humane for Australians when it comes to the 'vermin' and 'pest' that is the feral cat on that continent. They hate the animal but not everyone does because in this instance this feral cat who had earned the name 'Tangalooma puma' had a following and there was an outcry when the feline was trapped and killed.

A resident caught the cat in July having set up a humane trap. He learnt the technique in a workshop run by Brisbane City Council. The cat was then euthanised by Queensland Parks and Wildlife Services in accordance with the Biosecurity Act 2014.

In order to verify that this cat was a pest by preying on native species, they conducted an autopsy and discovered the remnants of a crow and a bandicoot in the stomach. This proved to them that the cat was decimating native while species which justified their actions in killing it.

Residents of Moreton Island are allowed to have pets but as it is given over to being a national park, they can't really let their cats go outside. I'm not sure if there is a local ordinance which forbids domestic cats going outside. The reports don't comment on that.

Of course, most of the residents are happy that the cat was killed but, as mentioned, not everyone is in agreement perhaps because it was a pet cat 😎. It makes me smile ironically. No one should agree to domestic cats being killed by the authorities for doing nothing wrong. It is wanton cat killing.

It's peculiar that they dubbed the cat a "puma". It seems that in the imagination of many they exaggerated its size to that of a mountain lion (a very large feline). This is not untypical of humans. And in doing that there was a gradual swell of hatred of the animal resulting in one resident deciding to trap it.

But 15 pounds in weight for a domestic or feral cat is not that big. It is slightly bigger than normal but not huge. And if a cat has become feral for whatever reason, they're going to have to hunt to survive. 

People need to look more carefully at why the cat became feral cat in the first place. The only reason is because of human carelessness. I always think it is very unfair if the existence of an animal due to human carelessness becomes such a nuisance that they have to kill it. The animal is an innocent victim of sloppy human behaviour. This is not a reason to kill the animal.

It is a reason to educate people to stop being sloppy on cat ownership. It's a reason to be kind to the animal because they are victims as well as the animals that they eat.

Monday 20 December 2021

Snares are still legal in the UK and they are "antiquated and cruel"

Chris Packham describes snares as "antiquated, cruel and hideous". They are still legal in the UK and the Countryside Alliance say that they are useful in wildlife conservation. Packham says that snared animals "die of starvation, they die of dehydration, they die in excruciating pain, often they break their limbs". The Countryside Alliance insists that they should stay as part of the management of the countryside in the UK.

Snares are still legal in the UK and they are "antiquated and cruel"
Snares are still legal in the UK and they are "antiquated and cruel". Photo in public domain.

The Countryside Alliance, in a statement, said: "Snares benefit conservation and a range of economic activities from shooting and agriculture to forestry and eco-tourism. There is often no practical and effective replacement for snaring at crucial times of the year to protect livestock and wildlife, particularly during spring and summer. Well-designed snares, used properly, are a humane and effective form of fox control."

An Animal Aid petition supported by Downton Abbey actor Peter Egan is online presently. Mr Egan said: "The snares are just absolutely horrible and they are indiscriminate. Whether it be a fox or any animal that gets caught in it, often domestic companion animals. It's so cruel."

Mr Egan is a well-known animal advocate. And Chris Packham made the point that if a small animal is trapped in a snare they become a prey animal to a larger predator so they are killed and eaten. The important issue for pet owners is that sometimes cats and dogs get caught in them. The Head of Campaigns at Animal Aid, Jessamy Korotoga, said that many people can't believe that they are still legal.

The problem with snares is that they are indiscriminate. Any animal that wanders into them and gets caught by them is killed cruelly.

Comment: personally, I hate them and I dislike the attitude of the Countryside Alliance who blithely state that they improve wildlife conservation while ignoring the pain they cause animals. They treat foxes as pests and accept that they're going to feel pain and die of starvation. They don't find any problem in that at all. And yet foxes are wildlife like any other creature with a right to survive. The Countryside Alliance practices speciesism which means they favour certain animals over others. This I think is inherently incorrect and unfair.

Chris Packham says that snares should be banned and they are banned throughout most of Europe. It's remarkable that the UK is behind mainland Europe in this regard. We have, at the centre of government, Carrie Johnson, the wife of the Prime Minister, who is a strong animal advocate. She is behind the introduction of current animal welfare legislation with the assistance of Lord Goldsmith, a friend of hers. In other words, the UK is strengthening its animal welfare laws. Why, therefore, is the dreaded and barbaric snare being omitted from these improvements in British legislation?

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