“Shoot the [Feral] Cat[s]”
Bruce Barcott, a contributing editor at Outside magazine, wrote an excellent essay in the December 2, 2007 issue of the New York Times Magazine that examines in detail both sides of the feral cat issue. A copy of this article is available in full at David Quintana’s Lost in the Ozone blog (see Kill the Cat that Kills the Bird).
Much of the article focuses on Jim Stevenson, founder of the Galveston Ornithological Society and “the most notorious cat killer in America,” and the nationwide controversy he caused when he shot a feral cat that was preying on Piping Plovers (an endangered species) near Galveston Island. An excerpt:
Much of the controversy focuses on the nation’s population of 50 to 90 million feral cats (exact figures are impossible to ascertain), former pets and their offspring that live independent of humans. Feral cats may not have owners, but they do have lobbyists. Alley Cat Allies, a national organization founded by an ex-social worker named Becky Robinson, harnesses a fierce coalition of celebrities, cat experts and feral-cat-colony caretakers to fight for the rights of wild cats. Her allies include Roger Tabor, a leading British naturalist; Jeffrey Masson, the outspoken author of “The Nine Emotional Lives of Cats” and “When Elephants Weep”; and, fittingly, Tippi Hedren, the actress best known for starring in the 1963 Alfred Hitchcock thriller, “The Birds.” Which, as you will recall, was a film in which Hedren spent two hours dodging attacks by murderous birds.
Both sides weighed in on Stevenson’s shooting. Cat advocates called him cruel and criminal. The blog Cat Defender (“Exposing the Crimes of Bird Lovers”) labeled him the Evil Galveston Bird Lover. The president of the Houston Audubon Society condemned Stevenson’s “illegal methods of controlling these animals,” but other bird-watchers hailed his actions. One Texas birder, a fourth-grade science teacher, suggested that Stevenson be given a medal for his actions.I wouldn't go quite so far as to praise Jim Stevenson for his actions, but I do find them to be far more ethical, humane, and ecologically sound than those of the feral-cat lovers. Feral cats need to be removed from the wild in a humane manner, and by "removed" I don't mean live-trapped and relocated elsewhere.