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Feral cat eradication as racism?

This is probably the silliest op-ed I have seen in many years.   At least on conservation issues. It argues that seeking to control feral cats is unnecessary since there is no evidence linking species extinctions to feral cat predation. It doubles up on the stupidity by arguing that the dislike of feral cats reflects a “common” value in our migrant-based Australian society of antipathy towards migrants. National extinctions are an environmental  disaster but avoiding extinctions should be a minimal type of conservation effort.  Of course we should be concerned about the dramatic reduction in range that many Australian species have experienced since white settlement.

As the author notes feral cats have caused extinctions on islands and this understanding can be used to understand how feral cats, together with foxes,  have caused a dramatic reduction in Australia’s fauna on the mainland.  Moreover there is specific and incontrovertible evidence that feral cats are implicated in the local extinctions of mainland species such as native rats. The reason feral cats are such a problem in Australia is that they have few natural predators and their numbers grow rapidly. Indeed one suggestion for controlling cats is to reintroduce dingos, quolls and Tasmanian  Devils as predators.   Australian native mammal populations are under severe threat with the range of such species having contracted dramatically. There are an estimated 1.5 million feral cats in Queensland alone so the scale of wildlife losses will be enormous.

Conservationists dislike feral cats not because they are analogous to migrants but because the Australian environment is valued.  The evidence this clown introduces for the view that dislike of feral cats reflects a form of racism is one foolish remark on “dewogging” by a National Party politician. Moreover, there is absolutely no evidence that such remarks – even if they were widely held – have had any impact on conservation policies.

The author teaches sociology at the University of Tasmania.  I hope his classes show a bit more respect for evidence and logic than this careless, stupid and utterly irresponsible op ed. Why write this rubbish and why should The Age publish it?

Update:  Illegal Immigrants as ferals? Yes, when they start eating us.

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30 comments to Feral cat eradication as racism?

  • Jim Rose

    Has the cane toad found a new defender? Invasive species are famous for the damage they do when they have no natural predators.

    Does the author understand why there are animal and plant quarantine officers at airports etc?

    see http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/invasive/publications/pubs/invasive.pdf for a front page picture of a feral cat killing a native bird

    google Invasive species in Australia for a long wiki

  • Woodsman

    This only goes to prove what I’ve witnessed all my life. Some of the most stupid, foolish, irresponsible, and ignorant people in the world have a PhD or Dr attached to their names. This “professor” should be tested for Toxoplasma gondii infection because it sounds like a cat’s parasite is now controlling his deranged mind. Lots of studies now support how this cat’s parasite hijacks the motives and thought processes of any animal’s brain it invades — including humans.

    Here’s a reprint of what I usually tell fools like this Adrian Franklin, since comments are not allowed on that page. Feel free to forward this to the idiot “professor”.

    Destroying cats is neither hating cats nor a fear of cats.

    Why do mentally-unbalanced and psychotic cat-advocates always presume that if someone is removing a highly destructive, deadly disease spreading, human-engineered invasive-species from the native habitat to restore it back into natural balance that they must hate that organism? Does someone who destroys Zebra Mussels, Kudzu, African Cichlids, Burmese Pythons, Brown Tree Snakes, or any of the other myriad destructive invasive-species have some personal problem with that species? (Many of which are escaped PETS that don’t even spread any harmful diseases, unlike cats.) Your ignorance and blatant biases are revealed in your declaring that people who destroy cats must somehow hate or fear cats. Nothing could be further from the truth.

    It is people who let a destructive invasive-species roam free that tortures-to-death all other wildlife, wasted for their cats’ play-toys, that have zero respect for ALL life. They don’t even care about their cats dying a slow torturous death from exposure, animal attacks, diseases, starvation, dehydration, becoming road-kill, environmental poisons, etc., the way that ALL stray cats suffer to death. They don’t even respect their fellow human being. This speaks more than volumes about your disgusting character. People like you should be locked up in prison for life for your cruelty to all animals, cruelty to your own cats as well as all the native wildlife that you let your cats skin alive or disembowel alive. If you let cats roam free you are violating every animal-abandonment, animal-neglect, animal-endangerment, and invasive-species law in existence.

    If people do hate cats today, have LEARNED to hate cats today, you have nobody but yourself and everyone just like you to blame. YOU are the reason people are now realizing that all excess cats must be destroyed on-site and on-sight. You’ve done so much to make people care about cats, haven’t you. If you want to do something about it, direct your sadly and sorely misplaced energies at those that are causing the problem, not at those who are actually solving it AND HAVE SOLVED IT 100%.

    THIS IS YOUR FAULT and THE FAULT OF EVERYONE JUST LIKE YOU. You have NOBODY but yourselves to blame.

    You can take that all the way to the very last shot-dead cat’s grave.

  • Woodsman

    While you’re at it, Google for (include quotes): Cats “Human Territorial Behavior By Expendable Proxy”

    A little discovery of my own when ridding my lands of their invasive species cats. This explains why this professor wrote his article and thinks the way he does. But he’s too stupid and blind to recognize his own motives.

  • Woodsman

    Since this “professor” loves to admire the values and society of the UK so much to back his foolish claims, then perhaps he missed this fun bit of information.

    The Scottish Wildcat, UK’s ONLY native cat species, is scheduled for EXTINCTION within months. Cause: the domesticated invasive species cat.

    http://www.scottishwildcats.co.uk

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/sep/16/scottish-wildcat-extinction

    “‘However you juggle the figures, it is hard to find anything positive,’ says Steve Piper, the association’s chairman. ‘The overwhelming evidence is that the wildcat is going to be extinct within months.’ … However, it is not the loss of habitat that is causing the current cat crisis in the Cairngorms. It is the spread of the domestic cat. … ‘Essentially the Highland wildcat is being eradicated by an alien invasive species: the domestic cat.’”

    Citing the UK as any kind of authority on the subject of native wildlife vs. invasive feral domesticated-cats makes him (and they) a total laughing-stock. Whoever accredited this “professor” needs serious reevaluation and revocation of any funding, while having all his degrees pulled post-haste.

  • conrad

    That could really be satire (and presumably a good example of why sociology died as a discipline here, and why many of the really good people doing it ended up in biology, public health etc.).

    Also, I think a lot of sociology isn’t evidence based — some forms of qualitative analysis which they often like arn’t designed to make some sort of statement or inference about the truth or widely believed/accepted phenomena. Rather, the idea is to describe what they call the “lived experience” of the subjects. With this sort of analysis, you arn’t making any quantitative statements or making inferences about something. You’re just describing it and trying to find major themes of interest which may or may not reflect the real reality (this doesn’t matter, since for most things there is supposedly no way to deliniate “the truth” from the experience).

  • hc

    Conrad, If it is satire, it is a weird and dangerous form of satire.

  • hc

    Conrad, After a bit of checking I find it is not a spoof. He has written a book endorsing the same views. See:

    http://feral.typepad.com/feral_thoughts/2008/12/the-feral-cat-versus-the-environment-denying-past-impacts-will-lead-to-future-problems.html

  • Jim Rose

    I love cats but that is no excuse for suspending critical judgment on their impact of native wildlife.

    See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Invasive_species_in_Australia

    • Australia is host to 56 introduced invasive vertebrate animal species
    • Cats are the most widely spread and invasive of all introduced species
    • Rabbits are not such a problem now
    • The cane toad was introduced to control the cane beetle—that beetle was not its preferred food source given choice.

  • conrad

    That’s bizarre. Some trees were probably even chopped down for that book. And Jim — you shouldn’t talk about cane toads, you might give him new ideas, since we obviously don’t like them for the same reason as feral cats, and they’re probably entirely harmless to native species also (ignoring the ones they eat).

  • Jim Rose

    conrad, He is already covered on cane toads.

    Franklin argues for the acceptance of humanity as another agent of nature, and the changing mix and balance of species are inevitable.

    No one told Quarantine this. billions of $ are lost due to invasive species

  • Uncle Milton

    Academics are by and large much smarter than the average person but that doesn’t stop some of them having weird views. A professor at Florida International University (OK, it’s not Harvard, but still) wrote the other day that the Newtown massacre was a conspiracy by the United States Government, there was more than one gunman, there’s a cover up abetted by the media and so on.

    As for feral cats, I saw one once in the bush. It was as big as a medium sized dog. They have no natural predators and are a real menace.

  • Jim Rose

    Uncle Milton, you should watch cats from hell on cable TV. It is about some very nasty domestic moggies who were redeemed.

  • James Beaumont

    One can only sympathise with the students of a professor who can write such laughable rubbish. Submitting an essay to him would be very much a heart in mouth experience. One presumes he will substantiate his speculations with some formal, sociological research. Even a purely qualitative study will set him straight.

  • Jim Rose

    see http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/news/8207096/Gareth-Morgan-wants-cats-eradicated

    economist Gareth Morgan is calling for the eradication of cats from New Zealand. he has set up a website cats must go

    a collar with a bell reduces a cat’s catch rate by 50 per cent. indoor cats do not kills any native wildlife.

  • hc

    Thanks Jim I saw that. I responded to a debunking counter-proposal here:

    http://offsettingbehaviour.blogspot.com.au/2013/01/kill-all-kittens.html

  • Jim Rose

    Kiwis love cats. Most have a cat. Cats are very friendly to strangers in NZ because most people like them and harm is very unlikely (unlike Oz where cats must be wearier).

    The dividing line is MULTIPLE CAT OWNERSHIP. It is common in NZ to have more then one cat.

    Only old spinsters have more than one cat in Oz. Multiple cat ownership passes without comment in NZ.

    The lame excuse to buy the second kitten is the cat would get lonely if left alone on its own during the day!?

    The Cat Protection League would form the next government if Gareth Morgan was ever in with even half a chance.

  • Jim Rose

    Scientists are studying the physiological and psychological effects of pet ownership.
    1. Pets build healthy family relationships
    2. Children who have pets tend to be more sociable, less selfish and more self-reliant
    3. A family pet can play an important role in building a child’s immune system
    4. Pets keep the elderly more active and healthier
    5. Cats and/or dogs reduce feeling of loneliness or isolation, particularly in the elderly
    6. Owning a pet is soothing, helps relaxation and reduces tension
    7. Pets improve health in a number of ways. Pet owners have lower stress levels, have lower blood pressure, have lower cholesterol levels, are more likely to survive a heart attack and rehabilitate faster from physical or psychological illnesses.

    Coase’s point that marginal cost is a poor measure of the value of bridges also applied to cats.

    HT: http://www.petfoodnz.co.nz/ownership.htm

  • Jim Rose

    I should add that cats pose no threat to humans. Some dogs do.

    The control of dangerous dos is hard fought with penalties against owners of dogs that cause death and injury often too light.

    This is a tactical message for those that attempt to control companion animals that are harmless to people.

  • [...] while back I ran a post on a really silly article in The Age defending the role of feral cats in the environment arguing that negative attitudes toward them were analogous to racism towards migrants.  The facts [...]

  • Brett Hayhurst

    After reading Prof Adrian Franklin’s hypothesis it worries me how “far out” somebody in this position can be.
    I have lived for several decades in rural areas or actually in the bush in many parts of Australia so have seen them actually in the act of taking Native Fauna and at no time did asylum seeker’s and/or migrants cross my mind. How he came to that link and he promotes it leaves me lost for words.
    Yes Jim Rose, I have also seen many wild dogs but they need exterminating also and I do love dogs but some of these pig dogs that have been lost to the bush can be scary creatures and whenever you have more than one dog, its a pack and that can be big trouble to a human. Again, no thought of Asylum seekers or migrants and they did not start out as companion animals either, and if you are aware, they also still rip off young children’s faces and kill adults.
    One link I can make from his view is that he is definitely a worthy candidate for a certain minority political party that seems to thrive in Tassie. He will fit right in, but I am thinking he is already a member with a mind like that.
    Totally frightening that he lectures. I think many people need to get out more.
    Just goes to show you can study all you like and have titles but still be dumb as, for want of a better term that is allowed here.

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  • mbo

    pffft yes academics and semantics and morons who dont know the difference between simply words like weary and wary #MORONS

  • mbo

    and idiots who cant see the link between an invasive non human species that migrated and human species that migrate *NOTaSTRETCH*

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