The Western Governors Association declares the feral cat an invasive species
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.
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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.
Awesome Michael. I wonder if all the cat haters/killers care about Wildlife so much they don’t drive a car, have decided not to have kids because of Human overpopulation, don’t eat meat because of land clearing used for agriculture, I could go on, seems pretty arrogant to blame a species for It’s impact on Wildlife when Humans are far worse. I’m pretty sure if culling was going to drastically reduce cat numbers it would have by now, we have been doing it for long enough, it’s just creulty with no real science behind it.
I see you haven’t attempted to reply to my last (06/30/18) post, Michael. In said post I have refuted your arguments point-by-point based on data and text taken straight from Woinarski et al. Your cat-loving sycophants posting herein haven’t come up with anything other than whinging about what awful people we conservationists are for telling the truth about your horrifically destructive invasive species in Australia. I dare you to do better.
I don’t have time to read all the comments. Simple as that. And now that I have read this comment of yours I am pleased I did not because you are one of those nasty cat hating bigots.
Nonsense. I backed up my arguments straight from the study. You didn’t answer because you HAVE no answer.
Wrong I am afraid. You are trying to tell me what I do and know. That’s ridiculous.
No, you accuse me of what you yourself are most guilty. You proclaim to the world what you do not know.
Really, you are a pain in the butt. So go away and stay away.
Truth hurts, I suppose. Greetings from the Land Down Under, where I have been since September and haven’t thought about you even once.
But plan to visit Brian, the man down in South Australia who shoots feral cats, skins and tans their hides for sale. I’m in the market for a feral cat-hat.
BTW, have you died yet? If not, do get busy on that. Make the world a better place.
🙂 I’ll probably outlast you even though I am nearly 70. I hope someone makes a mistake in a hunting accident and voila…
Then you’re only five years older than I, so I imagine it’s a toss-up. Neither you nor I have any control over that, in any event.
But in the unlikely event I ever visit the doddering, decrepit “United Kingdom” (as there are far more enjoyable places to visit throughout the globe), I well make it a point to stop by and dance on your grave…
It was found from a 25-year study of Australian shingleback lizards (Tiliqua rugosa) that it mates for life, and that, unless forced to, will not desert its mate if it’s injured or immobilized–recently one was found gently nudging his mate which was stuck under a wire fence for several days, as if encouraging her to follow him. It would not leave, despite the proximity and close approach of human observers. Invasive (feral) cats destroy these inoffensive, slow-moving reptiles by the truck-load, even when not driven by hunger.
Of course those who are knee-jerk feral cat apologists are quick to make such irrational “rationalizations” by claiming this is the natural order of things, i.e. predators taking prey. But let a water python (Liasis macklotii) or a carpet python (Morelia spilota) kill and eat a cat, they scream for the native predators’ immediate destruction. Double-standards are the root of all evil.
There is nothing “natural” about this tragic situation.
Australia is an entire continent whose fauna evolved in the absence of placental mammals, except for a few small rodent species (several of which have been rendered extinct by
feral cats). Australia’s unique and irreplaceable native fauna should not be condemned to extinction for having evolved in isolation. These animals occur nowhere else in the world, and they are being wastefully and needlessly slaughtered by cats by the millions each and every day.
There is no shortage of cats. They most definitely do not belong in Australia–not as “pets”, not as “mousers”, not for any reason. And Michael, your propensity to accuse others of being “criminals” whenever they advocate removal of cats from our environment notwithstanding, it is NOT criminal to advocate for their complete elimination from Australia by any means necessary.
Woinarski’s research is founded on over 80 field studies quantifying cat depredation in interior and northern Australia, and these studies in turn were based on stomach content analyses of tens of thousands of feral cats. You should know if you don’t that unless one has the opportunity to accumulate and quantify 100% of a given data set (which is seldom possible), ALL scientific results are based on “estimates”. This doesn’t make such estimates unreliable, unless the analyses in question were poorly designed.
Have rigorously-accumulated, quantitative evidence that Woinarski’s analysis was poorly designed, or even logically defensible “qualitative” evidence? Have you conducted, or do you have access to research, which contradicts his findings? If so why haven’t you promulgated it on your blog? I have never seen you produce such evidence as long as I have been perusing it (about 4-5 years now). Can you demonstrate that your objections are predicated on anything other than emotional reaction or wishful thinking? Are you a “science denier” when it comes to cats?
If you have the “right” to demand names and photographs from all who disagree with you, I have the “right” to demand you substantiate your arguments. That’s not too much to ask. Photo below:
This statement of yours is typical of people like you. You don’t read what I write because your heads are so full of anger against people who defend the cat against people like you. I said ‘trolls’ must provide their real name and photo. Trolls are completely different to critics or those that disagree. I hope you understand that and if you don’t look it up and learn.
I am not a feral cat apologist. There should be no feral cats. They are a product of human error and negligence. I blame people. Feral cats should not exist and it would be better for all – animals and people and even the feral cats – if they did not exist.
The study you refer to concluded that they did not know how feral cats affected the survivability of reptile species in Australia and that more studies were needed. I am just quoting the study.
Finally, I have the right to demand what I want to demand on my site provided it is legal. Those demands need not be conditional on providing arguments as you state. But because I am a decent person I have responded. I am not a science denier. Read the study. I support science. It is you who is denying science. You are drowning it out with your anger and hatred of the cat.
My arguments are predicated on scientific data, and sufficient critical thinking skills to analyze it. Yours, on the other hand, seem predicated on overweening affection for “The Cat”, and little else.
Here’s the difference between my reaction to this study and yours:
(1) You frantically cling to a caveat in said study which–rightly–cautions there is insufficient data to determine the impact of feral cat depredation on THOUSANDS of Australian reptile species (more than 600 Scincids alone), and that further study is needed. Apparently you take said caveat as calling the entire study into question. It DOESN’T.
(2) I accept on the basis of the data presented that ANNUAL disappearance of over 600 million reptiles down feral cat gullets IS.NOT.SUSTAINABLE. It has and will continue to have a “cascading” effect in Australian ecosystems to their utter detriment unless it’s stopped.
The impact is not just on those species subjected to direct feline depredation. Recall those photos of the piles of small lizards and snakes being extracted from feral cat stomachs while considering this:
Australia is the most nutrient-poor terrestrial environment on earth, except for Antarctica. That’s why–at least since the Pleisteocene and very early Holocene–reptiles have been the largest predators on the continent. Reptiles require only 10% of the nutrients mammals of equal mass require, because they thermo-regulate “behaviorally” by moving from cool to warm substrate and back again. Mammals thermoregulate metabolically, which requires much more energy, hence much more food. That’s why tigers are (or were) the top of the wild food-chain in mainland southeast Asia, while in the neighboring Australo-Papu’an region it’s crocodiles, pythons and giant lizards.
So let’s allow “The Cat” to wipe out populations of small skinks, geckos and snakes across broad swaths of Australia, shall we? More than half-a-billion a year. Very quickly the larger reptiles, native rodents, marsupials, monotremes and birds must expend more energy to obtain needed calories in an already nutrient-poor, and increasingly pauperized, system. This in turn puts even more pressure on whatever smaller species “The Cat” hasn’t got round to yet, and so it goes…
To make things worse, cats aren’t subject to sufficient depredation by native Australian species to “naturally” suppress their numbers, as the dominant native predators are reptiles. Therefore they only take 10% of the cats a mammalian predator of equal mass would consume, and–unlike cats–they only kill when they’re hungry. Cats reproduce far too rapidly for a 10% “attrition” rate to make any difference in their numbers. Of native predators only the Tasmanian devil preys significantly on cats, and it’s confined to Tasmania. Dingoes sometimes go after cats, but in most regions not nearly as much as we would like. Sheep, kangaroo etc. are easier (and thus more energy-efficient) prey. There is no way this system will achieve an ecological “balance” as long as “The Cat” is involved.
You don’t have to measure EVERY data point in such a situation to accept an “estimate” based on tens of thousands of samples as reliable. Nor do you require anything more than objectivity and common sense to realize that an invasive predator destroying 75 million marsupials, native rodents, monotremes, birds, reptiles and frogs each NIGHT (Woinarski, 2005) is an egregious THREAT to that system and the unique, irreplaceable species which comprise it.
The scientists did not say that. You have because you are ‘frantically’ trying to prove that feral cats should be exterminated.
Note: I am not frantic. I am never frantic because I am too damned old to be frantic 🙂
I am simply presenting an alternative argument based on the arguments presented in the study. That is very fair and proper. It does not warrant you calling me ‘frantic’. So please calm down. And watch your language please.
You said: “‘IS.NOT.SUSTAINABLE’
The scientists did not say that. You have because you are ‘frantically’ trying to prove that feral cats should be exterminated.”
The study under discussion is merely this author’s most recent out of several going back more than a decade. In fact Woinarski was among the first Australian biologists calling for a cat-cull. The Australian government’s current policy is largely predicated on his findings and recommendations. Therefore I have no need to be “frantic”–the author agrees with me.
Also, your ‘alternative’ argument hasn’t offered a viable alternative to extermination. I request you attempt to promulgate one which amounts to more than merely objecting to the man’s findings because you don’t like what he found.
“Note: I am not frantic. I am never frantic because I am too damned old to be frantic ? I am simply presenting an alternative argument based on the arguments presented in the study.”
From the discussion section, Woinarski, 15 June 2018: ‘The loss of ~1.8 million native reptiles per day due to predation by cats provides further evidence of the potential conservation impact of this introduced predator on Australian biodiversity.’
Tell me, Michael–would a logical, objective person conclude Woinarski’s above-quoted statement more closely matches and supports your argument, or mine? Perhaps before answering, you might wish to better articulate what IS your argument with respect to this research. All that comes across is that what you call “contextualizing” consists of complaining that someone published research which cast “The Cat” in a bad light.
BTW, there are several other statements in the ‘discussion’ in this report (to say nothing of the data) which support my take on this. Would you like the quotes?
“That is very fair and proper. It does not warrant you calling me ‘frantic’. So please calm down. And watch your language please.”
Watch my language? I re-read my last post. I haven’t called you any names or used inappropriate language. Overall I’ve been fairly polite, and more respectful to you than you’ve been to me.
Note the word ‘potential’. What you say does not change anything and it does not change what I wrote.
You said I was frantic. I made the point that I am not. I published your comment. That’s a success on this site as you advocate killing cats even though their existence is due to human irresponsibility. Do you see the moral issues?
Certainly. The moral issues I see are that I prioritize the health and safety of human children, ecological systemic stability and prevention of species-level extinctions over individual cats’ lives. You don’t.
No, you don’t have to choose one over the other. You can act morally towards both. If the Australian government had commenced a fully funded, resourced and comprehensive TNR program across the nation 20 years ago, there would be no feral cat problem today. It would have been managed. It is all about lack of political will and laziness. And if they had stopped allowing businesses to damage the habitat of Aussie native species a conservation problem would have been far less likely.
“You don’t have to choose one over the other.” In reality we have to make choices all the time, and this is one of the unavoidable ones, like it or not. For example, the absolute minimum requirement of any program to address feral cat overpopulation is that it actually reduce cat numbers. Hopefully you can agree to that.
Since this program first was attempted nearly six decades ago, stray and feral cat populations have continued to increase–in the US at a mean rate of about 29% annually. In the UK stray and feral cat numbers have more than doubled since the advent of TNR there. TNR has never lived up to its “population reduction” claim simply because cats reproduce much faster than they can be trapped and sterilized–or adopted, or housed in “sanctuaries”, or euthanized. Trapping takes too long.
Most major TNR advocacy groups now use terms like “manage” and “stabilize” rather than “reduce” populations, because they’ve been proved NOT to reduce populations too often, even by pro-TNR researchers like J. K. Levy DVM. The more honest among them now don’t even promise “natural attrition of colonies”–they admit that “feral cats will always be here.” IF all we do to curb their population growth is TNR, that will unfortunately be the case. If you feel otherwise, please show me peer-reviewed research by ANYONE which demonstrates the efficacy of TNR in terms of population reduction in an open system.
The other problem with your recommendation is that spaying/neutering does nothing whatsoever to prevent cats from destroying native wildlife. Per Woinarski (2018) the mean of feral cat reptile kills is 225 per cat per year.
Most estimates of feral cat life-spans range 3-5 years–again, this is acknowledged by most TNR apologists themselves, including fairly prominent ones. Let’s split the difference at 4. That’s 225 slaughtered reptiles per feral cat per year x 4 years x 20,000,000 Australian feral cats (which is the most commonly quoted population estimate).
That’s 18 BILLION Australian reptiles destroyed by ONE generation of feral cats in four years time. And that horrific slaughter is inflicted on 258, ~25%, of described Australian reptile SPECIES every four years (ibid). Note that I didn’t even include the 53 million reptiles destroyed annually by unconfined Australian “pet” cats in my total (ibid).
In light of these numbers you CANNOT rationally conclude that we don’t have to choose between Australian reptile extinctions and “humane” population reduction of feral cats via TNR. Such a non-choice is tantamount to a fire brigade tossing thimblefuls of water on a burning building.
To sum up, destruction of 18 billion individuals of one-fourth of Australia’s described reptile species IS.NOT.SUSTAINABLE. To make it worse, because of the inhospitable nature of the Australian interior, there are likely thousands of species yet to be described. I have witnessed the discovery of several new species new species during my annual visits to that country over the last 13 years.
As long as we refuse to make the hard choice to thoroughly and PERMANENTLY remove feral cats from Australian biotopes, it’s becoming less and less likely these species ever will be scientifically described.
Michael, you must be familiar with the Animal Legal Defense Fund. How would you rate their work. I sort of give it 5 stars for being the only one I know of, but you’re probably a better judge, law being your field.
This would be an excellent case for them to take on but I wonder if they have an active feral cat extermination program of this is only listing cats as an invasive species ??
I started a thread on TheCatStie. This stuff needs to be shut down.
This is their FB page. Stop the spread of this nonsense here before you cat isn’t save in your own window sill.