By Becky Robinson
Be scared…very, very scared. I’m not talking about Halloween, when ghosts and goblins abound. I’m talking about something even more frightening. I’m talking about the mass eradication of cats in the environment.
There are many reasons to be horrified. One is the notion that some conservationists, who call for the mass removal of cats, state they want them treated humanely. Meanwhile, they give ghoulish nods to trapping, snaring, shooting, and poisoning cats.
So why do some conservationists support getting rid of outdoor cats? They believe the number of unowned cats is on the rise, despite the fact that there are no credible calculations of unowned cats in the United States, and there’s nothing to suggest that outdoor cats are increasing. In fact, 80 percent of cats living in U.S. households are neutered, and Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) and Shelter-Neuter-Return programs are at all-time highs, as are the number of owners who keep their cats indoors.
These conservationists also blame cats for 33 global wildlife extinctions on islands, where numerous predator species, other than cats, were also introduced. The existence of multiple predators makes it impossible to point to any one species as the cause of the extinction. Out of 80 predation studies, none demonstrated reduced bird populations due to cats.
The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds says, “It is likely that most of the birds killed by cats would have died anyway from other causes before the next breeding season, so cats are unlikely to have a major impact on populations.”
The organization’s former director of conservation—not a cat fan, by the way—responded to calls for free-roaming cat eradication by saying, “If you look at all the conservation issues in the country, [predation by cats] comes quite low down the list.…Once you have sorted out climate change, agriculture, overfishing, water pollution, over-abstraction, and illegal killing of birds of prey, then maybe we will come on to the cats.”
The most chilling notion promoted by some conservationists, however, is that you should kill one species to save another. This idea has left millions of dead bodies in its wake. In 2013 alone, four million animals were killed in the name of wildlife management, many of them birds.
Calls for killing cats, and other species, must stop. Americans love cats and wildlife, and they want them both protected. They don’t want conservationists wasting time, money, and energy on plans that open the door for more killings. They want compassion and trustworthy science, not flawed data and speciesism.
Fortunately, a growing group, who call themselves compassionate conservationists, recognizes that wildlife protection must be based on sound science and altruism, not on pitting one species against another. Their guiding principles are to recognize the sentient and inherent worth of all animals.
The horror of kill conservation must end. This three-headed monster has gorged long enough on the trapped, snared, shot, poisoned, broken, and battered bodies of helpless wild animals and cats. It’s time to toss it into the garbage with all the other leftover Halloween tricks and call it a day.