Monday, March 25, 2013

Feral cats and birds: the "debate" can be brutal

The issue of feral cats - house cats gone wild - has simmered for years. Occasional events trigger seismic eruptions in the "debate" between the pro-cat and anti-cat camps. In fairness, it should be noted that many of the so-called "anti-catters" are certainly not anti-cat. Many are like myself - I own three cats, all of which needed homes, and I have been smitten with felines since I was a tot. And mine DO NOT go outdoors. But I, like scores of others who might be labeled "anti-cat", recognize the massive problems caused by ferals. Conversely, many of the pro-catters also see the need to reduce the populations of cats gone wild, recognizing the damage that they do to native populations of birds and other animals. Many of us would like to see humane and sensible solutions adopted to reduce the millions of feral cats in this country.

The latest major flare-up in the cat wars occurred recently, when longtime writer and conservationist Ted Williams penned an anti feral cat op ed for the Orlando Sentinel. The National Audubon Society, which had run Williams' column "Incite" for 33 years, promptly parted ways with Williams when the cat poo hit the fan over the Sentinel piece.

Audubon's parting of ways with Ted Williams incited all manner of blog posts and other writings about that particular issue, and the larger issue of feral cats. If you want a fascinating insight into the emotions generated by the feral cat issue, read THIS entry that was made on the blog 10,000 Birds. The blog article will point you to Williams' controversial Sentinel article, which provides an overview of the feral cat issue. But what is really fascinating is the comments - about 124 of them! - on the blog. Predictably, the pro and anti feral cat camps go at it, but even people who should be on the same page are at each others throats. Read the blog, and its attendant comments, HERE.


Anonymous said...

I am a (indoor) cat owner and a land manager who has to deal with feral cats and people dumping more all the time.
I read many of the Incite columns over the years, and although I likely agree with much of the content of this latest opinion column, (which has been pretty much reduced to an anti-TNR column and the stuff about euthanasia removed), it doesn't surprise me that he wrote something that was received poorly by many folks. If you look at the article now, he writes several things qualifying and clarifying what he meant to get across. I have felt for years that he took some of his pieces a bit too far, to see how many hornets he could stir up by not just kicking the nest, but smashing it like a pinata. There is no way he didn't know this would happen. I think his massive ego got in the way and this is going to make things much harder for the people who will actually be dealing with this issue going forward. (vs. the talking/writing heads like Ted Williams)

Rick from Licking said...

I saw over on Ohio birds they spoiled any April Fools sightings,was it really a problem?I enjoyed it.The Buckeye Lake Beacon for several years had some great ones.

Jim McCormac said...

Thanks for your thoughts on this issue, Brian. I'm pretty much with you. But I do have to respect Williams for speaking his mind.

I think what we saw on Ohio Birds was an example of political correctness run amok, Rick. This country has a great tradition of April Fool's pranks, and many a person has been duped by them, with no lasting damage. To have a spoilsport go on the listserv and basically ruin a great opportunity which the vast majority of readers enjoy because of some fear that a few people might have short-term hurt feelings, well, what can be said. I'm certainly glad that the editors of many of our great newspapers that routinely run clever 4/1 pranks are not so uptight!

Rick said...

I remember seeing a fools report here-a couple

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