- Gareth Morgan, a conservation campaigner and economist, has recently made a controversial suggestion to confine or eradicate cats from New Zealand because of their impact on wildlife. New Zealand birds are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of introduced mammalian predators due to evolutionary isolation.
- This is supported by a recent publication in Nature indicating cats kill more wildlife than previously thought – in fact more than any anthropogenic cause in the United States.
- Wild and free-roaming cats are said to be much more damaging than domestic cats, posing questions about whether there is a need to trap stray cats.
- Some argue that keeping a cat indoors permanently is an extreme measure and that taking steps such as putting bells on cat collars and neutering cats to reduce the number of strays can alleviate the problem to some extent.
Implications and next steps: This raises questions about what it is we value most – our entitlement to have a free- roaming companion animal or protection for native wildlife? Perhaps we can achieve a happy medium? Cat impacts may be of particular concern near conservation areas containing vulnerable species protected by the Habitats and Wild Birds Directives.