The Western Governors Association (WGA) represents 22 States and 3 territories. Most are Republicans; probably gun lobbyists. A ‘Governor’ is the chief executive of a state. The WGA has some clout and I expect that the laws of these affected states will change because if you formally declare a species such as the feral cat ‘invasive’ it should have an impact on how citizens in these states relate to the animal. Does it mean that hunters can shoot them?
I expect not because at present no US State can make it legal to shoot feral cats because you don’t know if the cat is feral or not at a distance. Practicalities take over. And this simple practicality prevents the authorities designating many individual cats feral. There is a spectrum of types of cat from totally domesticated via community cats (semi-feral) to stray domestic cats (owned cats) to feral cats born in the ‘wild’. Where do the authorities draw the line and single out feral cats?
However, invasive species are more likely to be formally declared as ‘pests’. This may have an impact on decisions by city and county councillors in respect of TNR programs. It may not but I am speculating.
To classify feral cats as an invasive species lowers that animal in terms of status in their relationship with people. It may lead to more abuses of the feral cat. It may encourage law enforcement to ignore cat abuses more often.
It may encourage local authorities to alter laws which already deal with invasive species. What I mean is the feral cat will be on the list of invasive species for any law which is concerned with how people relate to invasive species. And often these laws will grant permission for people such as pest controllers to eliminate invasive species. Until now feral cats were excepted.
I have to say that it is a backward step. I keep saying it but people created and continue to create the feral cat. The feral cat is the victim in this scenario. People are now punishing this animal, downgrading its status and possibly opening the door to abuses and the undermining of TNR programs. It is unethical in my view.
The concept of ‘invasive species’ is flawed. How far do you go back before you declare a species invasive? If you go back far enough almost everything is arguably invasive. Domestic cats are invasive in the US. What about them? Why single out ferals? Domestic cats in the US were imported by sailors and settlers from Europe in the early 1600s or by the Vikings long before that. We aren’t sure.
The WGA’s declaration that the feral cat is an invasive species is flawed.
Note: Comments from cat haters will not be published.