When Cats Take Over

by cmajor_1 on November 8, 2016 - 3:54pm

When Cats Take Over

An article by The Telegraph, “Australia writes to Brigitte Bardot and Morrissey to defend plan to kill two million cats,” has stimulated controversy surrounding plans to cull Australia’s feral cat population. The Australian Department of the Environment has named feral cats as the biggest threat to Australia’s biodiversity leading environment minister Greg Hunt to propose a goal of culling two million feral cats by 2020 with poison and traps. It seems that the state values organismal diversity above feral cats and views their large population as a threat to the state’s idea of a healthy ecosystem. As a result, they seek efficient and effective action, even if it means killing.

Unfortunately, as is often the case in natural resource management, conflict between stakeholders has permeated this case subverting the plan proposed by the Australian Department of the Environment. There is a general consensus throughout this article that population control has to be implemented but much conflict over the method used. Prominent Australian figures such as Brigitte Bardot and Morrissey have described the proposed population control methods as unnecessarily cruel, advocating neutering cats instead of killing them. It is evident that Bardot and Morrissey, as well as supporters, value cats as companions rather than as wild animals, as society often does (Loyd & Hernandez, 2015). Thus, value based conflict between stakeholders slows progress on feral cat population control, undermining efforts by resource managers.

In efforts to reconcile and create an environment supportive of cooperation with an outraged public, Australia’s threatened species commissioner, Gregory Andrews, wrote a letter to Morrissey that states that the government’s plan to kill feral cats is supported by a multitude of environmental nongovernment organizations as one of the most viable ways to control the spread of this invasive species. Reshaping popular opinion on cats and reinforcing state ideas of what makes up a healthy ecosystem is essential to state legitimacy as made evident in its attempts in this letter to alter public values to ones that accept cats as wild animals and threats to biodiversity with the encouragement of evidence provided by scientific government agencies.

Further, the state exerts discursive control on Australians by promoting culling as the only solution supported by the scientific community, likely because is the more economical option. Thus, interest based conflict over who pays the costs and who benefits, is also at play. The commissioner ignores capture-neuter-release methods in favour of traps and poison. This demonstrates the Australian government’s willingness to benefit from increased biodiversity at the lowest monetary price by taking action cost at what the public fears is immoral.

Clearly, conflict is restricting effective environmental resource management by impeding much needed feral cat population control. According to a study by Peterson, Hartis, Rodriguez, Green, and Lepcyzk (2012), without cooperation of key stakeholders, the implementation of large scale feral cat population control methods will be nearly impossible to achieve. Excluding the public by secretively euthanizing feral cats isn’t a viable option since even when “small scale cases are discovered the media attention and public scrutiny can create a backlash preventing effective feral cat management” (Peterson et al., 2012). Thus, value and interest based conflict prevents essential stakeholder agreement and must be overcome honestly through compromise and collaboration to allow Australian resource managers to control feral cat populations successfully. 


Works Cited

Loyd, K.T., & Hernandez, S. (2015). Public perceptions of domestic cats and preferences for

feral cat management in the southeastern united states. Anthrozoos, 25(3), 337-351. http://dx.doi.org/10.2752/175303712X13403555186299

Pearlman, J. (2015, October 14). Australia writes to Brigitte Bardot and Morrissey to defend plan

to kill two million cats. Retrieved October 05, 2016, from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/australiaandthepacific/australia/11930661/Australia-writes-to-Brigitte-Bardot-and-Morrissey-to-defend-plan-to-kill-two-million-cats.html

Peterson, M.N., Hartis, B., Rodriguez, S., Green, M., & Lepczyk, C.A. (2012). Opinions from

the front lines of cat colony management conflict. PLoS One, 7(9), 1-8. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0044616

Tickell, O. (2016, April 12). Scotland's secret cat slaughter revealed in FOI documents.

Retrieved October 22, 2016, from http://www.theecologist.org/News/news_round_up/2987549/scotlands_secret_...


CAT LIVES MATTER! Your title obviously grabbed my attention. I found it ludicrous that the feral cat population is a vast number in Australia to the point that they want to poison and reduce the number within the area. I am a cat lover of all types, so that saddens me. Do you believe reducing the population is a good idea? And if so, why?

I enjoyed your post! As a cat lover I would hate to see so many cats euthanized. I can't believe Australia has let the cat population explode to the point where they want to poison them! I believe maybe another way of taking care of the cat population is to trap , neuter/spay then release back into the environment. Maybe even trying to adopt out the cats granted there are way too many of them. What are your views on trying to lower the amount of cats? Do you believe a trap, neuter and release program would be a good idea?

This was very well written. Your title caught my attention immediately. I am a cat lover myself but do understand the need for some sort of control on the over population of stray cats. I do not think just killing them is the answer though, I believe a catch,fix and release is a short term solution, but this still leaves so many cats without food, shelter and people to love them!! Anyways back to your article, I think your paragraphs are well written and flow together great. I am impressed with the amounts of resources you used for your piece, this shows me you know what your taking about and have supporting facts proving that. Great job!!

Very interesting post. I couldn't help but want to read your post after a title like that. "When cats take over" is such a vague yet intriguing title that made me want to know more! I wasn't expecting it to be about the Australian Department of Environment wanting to euthanize two million feral cats. I found it interesting that they felt that the population had to be managed in this way. I may not be such a "crazy cat lady" but I still disagree with their management opinions.

What I don't understand is why the department claims that feral cats place such a large threat on the biodiversity? Is it because they are too large of a predator for species such as birds and mice? I would love to know more about why these cats are creating such a threat in a future post. As well, I was curious myself on other possible solutions to controlling the feral cat population so I looked into some other articles on the topic that may be of interest to you. The Trap Neuter Return program in the UK seemed successful in managing their stray cat threat. This is potentially an option that the Australian department could consider. This is a more humane and ethical response to control populations effectively while also implementing effective resource management. I noticed that others had suggested similar programs. Do you think that these programs are worth considering?

Your post was very informative and well written. It was not difficult to become immersed in the topic. You did a great job of summarizing and pointing out the main actors and issues involved.