Wednesday, January 14, 2009

On killing cats to save birds

If you follow feral cats, you may already be aware of the management disaster at Macquarie Island....originally touted as a massive success at eliminating feral cats, but quickly becoming an ecosystem disaster as rabbits reproduced and devastated the landscape.

A number of years ago, we were holding an adoption event at Barnes and Noble in Ithaca (where EVERY cat was adopted--thank you B and N!) and a gentleman and his young son came over. The son was fascinated by blind Buttercup, standing on a chair and petting and petting Buttercup, who was lounging on top of his cage.

The gentleman made a few friendly/sarcastic comments about feral cats, and finally I sat down next to him and learned that, in fact, he was a management agent who had been responsible for shooting/trapping/poisoning feral cats "on an island." He was now working at a local university.

I explained what we were doing with trap-neuter-return, and the successes we had had with it locally, and pointed out that the cats being adopted at the bookstore that day would be adopted to indoor homes only, and that, in fact, TNR advocates had the same agenda as eradication advocates---No More Feral Cats. I mentioned my background in nuisance wildlife control, and how I had come to work with feral cats. He expressed surprise that we were so level-headed, and we all quietly laughed when his son declared loudly that this was what HE was going to do when he grew up. Well---we advocates did. I'm not sure dad did. But he was certainly nice enough, and stopped the comments once he realized we were in fact grounded in our beliefs and actions.

He then asked if he could leave his son in our care while he stepped out to browse the bookstore. I said "Absolutely, if you don't mind leaving him in the company of a bunch of childless women." He looked around at the group of 30ish (at that time) not-unattractive women (no supermodels, certainly, but no one went running in the other direction when they looked at us) and said "NONE of you have children?" We all shook our heads no and smiled. He sort of looked at us, called his son to come, and left. It was a bookstore, after all, so we did not howl aloud in laughter, but I wanted to.

They did come back to say goodbye to Buttercup before they left the store.

I have a photo of blind Buttercup on my refrigerator that Susan M. obtained for me, from his owner. He's doing great.

I've always wondered if the gentleman had been referring to Macquarie Island. There weren't many islands where feral cats were successfully eradicated.

Before and after photos of the rabbit damage can be found here.


Gary Rith Pottery Blog said...

Quite a story!
Glazing your wee little teapot and firing it Friday and I'll send you pics after the kiln is unloaded, maybe Sat eve or Sunday.

Wildrun said...

Maybe Martha G. will be back in town and perhaps we could all have lunch/dinner here, you could all talk pottery, and you could visit the cats. :)

Rags to Riches Cat Rescue said...

I am surprised at the damage the rabbits can cause.

Nancy Cusumano said...

I WAS ONE OF THOSE CHILDLESS WOMEN sitting with you that day!!!

Wildrun said...

Ha! Yes you were!!!! And what a great day it was. It's time to do it again. I should call Barnes and Noble.

Zuleme said...

That is a great story.I have always been happily child free. There are plenty of children in the world so I've never felt I had to add any.