New Zealand Economist Proposes Extinction of Cats to Save Bird Population

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By Vittorio Hernandez | January 24, 2013 9:41 AM EST

Bob, the American software programmer who outsourced his tasks to Chinese developers and instead spent time watching feline videos, would surely disagree with a proposal by Gareth Morgan, a New Zealand economist.

And so would other cat lovers too because Mr Morgan, in his Web site (http://garethsworld.com/catstogo/), suggested the gradual extinction of the country's cat population because of the threat the animals cause to native bird species.

He even described cats as the friendly neighborhood serial killer and made two proposals how to eliminate the country's cat population short of culling them. First, he suggested neutering all cats in New Zealand.

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The second step is for cat owners not to replace their pet cats once it dies.

He pointed out in his anti-cat Web site, Cats to Go, that cats have helped kill off nine native bird species and endangered another 33, in the process threatening New Zealand's rich avian diversity.

New Zealanders, however, are cat-lovers with 48 per cent of households owing pet cats, according to the New Zealand Pet Food Manufacturers Association.

Previous studies confirmed that the death of baby gray catbirds in the Washington suburbs were 80 per cent caused by predators, of which 47 per cent were cats; because of the feline's domestication, they have few natural predators to reduce the cat population.

Bob Kerridge, executive director of the Auckland Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, urged Mr Morgan to leave the problem for nature to resolve.

Some cat owners, however, insisted that their pets caught only mice, not birds.

The cat versus bird battle brings to mind a childhood favourite cartoon - Tweety and Sylvester.

So whose side are you on - Tweety, the tiny yellow bird, or Sylvester, the puddy tat? Likely, the fight will go beyond Mr Morgan's Web site to Twitter where pro- and anti-cat advocates could debate over the issue through tweets.

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