NZ Activist Campaigns to Eliminate Cats

Facing claws-out backlash

cats new zealand ban birds invasive native

"This is mine. This is all mine," the cat says.     Photo: Leanne Gowden/Flickr

An environmental advocate in New Zealand is leading a crusade against the ownership of domestic cats. Gareth Morgan's campaign, called Cats to Go, is asking that his fellow Kiwis neuter their feline friends and consider making their current pet their last.

For hundreds of thousands of years, New Zealand's native birds knew no predators except each other. This changed when humans arrived. The island's original colonizers, the Maori, overhunted the larger birds and drove them to extinction. The next wave of visitors, mostly Englishmen, brought rats, stoats, and cats. The rats and stoats ate bird eggs and the cats began hunting the birds themselves. Many more avians that had never faced large-scale predation went extinct.

Now Morgan is trying to fight back, but according to CBS News his request is not sitting well in the island nation that boasts one of the highest rates of cat ownership in the world.

"I say to Gareth Morgan, butt out of our lives," Bob Kerridge, the president of the Royal New Zealand Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, told the current affairs television show Campbell Live. "Don't deprive us of the beautiful companionship that a cat can provide individually and as a family."

Morgan does not recommend that owners euthanize their cats, though his website says "that is an option."

Scientist David Winter agreed with the idea on his blog "The Atavism." He said that cats are responsible for the extinction of six bird species in the country and one cat managed to kill 102 native short-tail bats in a week.

Via 3 News

Comments