A Superior Court Judge in Los Angeles ordered the City of Los Angeles to stop helping non-profit cat organizations with their humane program called Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) which controls the cat population. That injunction came at the close of 2009 in response to a lawsuit filed by six bird organizations against the City of Los Angeles. The plaintiff bird people want to get rid of the cats because they claim that millions of birds die annually because of cats. Their stats are bogus. Truth is simple: The cats are only a scapegoat. Man is the problem: Wetland ecosystems, homeland to innumerable species of birds, have been destroyed by agricultural and urban development. Millions more birds die as a result of: skyscrapers with their vast expanse of windows; disorientation of migratory birds due to brightly-lit cities; communication towers, deadly chemicals in pesticides, cars and trucks, as well as power lines. Thousands of birds also die because of air traffic.
No one’s denying that cats are predators of birds. But, cats didn’t ask to be wired that way—the predator-prey relationship was designed by Nature. However, observe the obvious: cats are not good at hunting birds because cats don’t fly. Seriously. Far more successful predators of birds are other birds—falcons, hawks, owls, vultures—they’re treacherous to the smaller birds including the unhatched. Cats are great at clearing away rodents. With rodents evacuated to the fields, the snakes follow the same route in pursuit of the rodents, their food supply. Score two victories for the cats: they keep down two populations: the rodents and indirectly the snakes.
The complaint by the bird organizations against the cats is reminiscent of the anti-cat fever in Europe during the Middle Ages. And it should serve as a warning to those who want to clear out one species in favor of another. Look at what happened when cats were removed in the Middle Ages. Remember the bubonic plague/Black Death that hit Western Europe during the 14thCentury? The cats were being eliminated because of the unscientific link between cats and the Devil and cats and disease. One mayor of London had ordered the death of cats and dogs to test the hypothesis that they were the main carriers of the plague. Unfortunately, in his fervor to condemn the cats, the mayor discovered that another species flourished, the flea-infested rats!
Do we need to re-test the mayor’s hypothesis? Or do we get serious down at City Hall and focus on the real issue before history repeats itself? Stay tuned for Part II.