Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Could a Cat Ban in New Zealand Save Birds?

Megan Gannon, News Editor
Date: 23 January 2013 Time: 02:37 PM ET

"Imagine a New Zealand teeming with native wildlife, penguins on the beach, kiwis roaming about in your garden. Imagine hearing birdsong in our cities."

This is environmentalist Gareth Morgan's vision for his homeland, and to help make it a reality, he has an appeal for his compatriots: Get rid of your cats.

Morgan's newly launched campaign, Cats to Go, is pushing for much tighter controls on New Zealand's cats, which prey on native birds and are considered an invasive species on the island country. He's not asking all cat owners to euthanize their beloved pets (though his website says "that is an option"), but Morgan wrote in a Jan. 23 op-ed in Wellington's Dominion Post that owners should acknowledge that they are harboring "a natural born killer."

"At the very least responsible people should consider not replacing it when it dies and meanwhile either keep it indoors or invest in a cat-proof enclosure in the backyard," he wrote. Morgan also suggested neutering and cat collars with bells, and the campaign's website has a petition to lobby local governments to require that all owners register their cats.

His plea sparked furor among some cat lovers and organizers working to prevent animal cruelty, but are the ideas behind the campaign really that crazy?

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