Posts Tagged ‘San Nicolas Island’

The modern difficulties in dealing with problem wildlife

July 8, 2008

The world has become a much more difficult place when dealing with problem wildlife issues, especially when today’s animal rights philosophies come into play. Even when professionals try to do not only the right thing, but the only thing, they run into opposition from people and organizations with opposing agendas.

This was brought to mind by a recent article regarding the plan by the US Fish & Wildlife Service to eliminate or at least severely reduce feral cats on San Nicholas Island off the coast of California in order to further protect endangered bird populations on the island.

As to be expected, there was an uproar with the plan being called “misguided and inhumane” as well as “irresponsible, cruel and simply unacceptable.”

The absolutely silliest comment was a quote by a spokeswoman from an organization called Alley Cat Allies, which is an advocate group for feral cats, who said:

….there is no proof that the cats are eating the birds. Though bird remains have been found in cat stomachs, she said the birds could have been dead when the cats ate them.

“They honestly have no solid proof that these cats are killing the
birds,” she said. “They are not making an effect on the population.”

This is from someone who is supposed to know something about cats? Cats are natural born killers. They live to hunt and kill. Your well-fed cuddly old house cat will haunt the bird feeders of the neighbourhood, stalking and killing songbirds. The cat doesn’t need the food but the instincts are strong. Those feral cats don’t affect the bird populations on the island? Get serious.

The message apparently being that it is more important to protect feral cats than endangered bird populations.

In Surrey, B.C. the problem lies with beavers. These furry little dam builders regularly move in and construct dams in areas that threaten to flood homes, buildings and farmlands. To control this problem the city traps and kills these specific animals.

City staffers point out that there are hundreds of sites in the Surrey area where beavers are left to their own devices. They also note that relocating the animals out of problem areas is not an option, because they are territorial creatures and will do battle with interlopers which is why the Ministry of Environment bans relocations.

However a former Vancouver parks commissioner and animal advocate Roslyn Cassells says that trapping and killing the problem beavers is “inhumane, cruel, and unethical.”

It seems we have heard that mantra before.

Unfortunately there is no other practical solution. Some property owners say they have abandoned beaver dams on their property and they would adopt a beaver. But that option, even if viable, is extremely limited. But practicalities have no place in this discussion.

Mayor Dianne Watts, back in her office today after a trip to China, has called for relocating beavers. “I do not support the killing of wildlife,” she said in a statement.

Way to support your staff! Maybe the mayor will personally solve the problem by taking the surplus toothy little fellows home with her.

It may be this philosophy that drove the city of Helena-West Helena, Arkansas to solve their failed animal shelter problem by simply turning unwanted dogs loose in the national forest. Sure, it’s illegal and the dogs might starve out there but at least you don’t have people telling you that you’re “inhumane, cruel and unethical,”


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