Science condemns cat: ‘The most harmful invasive predator for biodiversity’

The cat is the most harmful invasive predator to biodiversity”. This is the summary of the letter that a group of Spanish scientists just published. They criticize the shortcomings of the bill for the protection, rights and welfare of animalsIt was approved by the government three months ago. they are pointing government document clashes head-to-head with European laws and strategies for biodiversity conservation. Your opinion: “The medium-term goal of environmental laws should be the elimination of environmental laws. wild catsincluding cat colonies”.

The letter, published in the journal ‘Conservation Science and Practice’, collects the results of numerous studies on cats in recent years. Among others, the following stand out:

–“Domestic cat It has played a role in more than a quarter of the modern extinction of birds, mammals and reptiles worldwide.and is considered the most noxious invasive predator.”

–“Predation by cats most important cause of death of small mammals and birdsbefore death, poisoning, or human hunters.”

“Contrary to popular belief, well-bred colony cats still hunt wild prey, and due to their high density, feral cats often exert several times greater influence on prey populations than domestic predators.”

–“The effects of cats are particularly severe on the islands.and Spanish laws will undoubtedly make it difficult to protect the endemic fauna of the Canary and Balearic Islands”.

– “Besides destruction, cats also act as vectors and reservoirs of numerous diseases. can endanger wildlife and harm public health.”

-“Colonies of stray cats can play a particularly important role in the dynamics of disease due to the high density of individuals and their intense interactions within colonies and with owned and feral cats.”

Criticism of animal welfare law

The letter begins by emphasizing how “moral circles” have historically expanded “beyond humans to include nonhumans”. As a result, Various legal instruments emerging around the world have given rights to animals.

Cat colony in Gijón. Marcos Leon / Juan Plaza

Again, “the inclusion of animals in moral circles is subject to significant biases, “with a preference for charismatic, familiar and beautiful vertebrates”, legal tools that adopt such biases “could jeopardize the conservation of biodiversity”.

In particular, they question the draft law and the 2030 Agenda prepared by the Ministry of Social Rights to restructure most interactions between humans and animals. “As it focuses on a few native species, the draft contradicts various European and Spanish laws and basic management strategies for biodiversity conservation”, they point.

The draft pays particular attention to: stray cat colonies; that is, high-density stray cat groups sustained by an artificial resource supply. “It aims to give them both nutritional and veterinary protection and support (in charge of their local public administration) and to give them official status for their volunteer caregivers,” the scientists say.

Moreover, bill bans extermination of felinesIt replaces the culling, which succeeded in eradicating cat populations on several islands through fertility monitoringa tool that is considered “more ethical”.

“However, fertility control allows for population decline only when applied at high rates over long periods of time and within spatial contiguity. very high costs and compensatory effects that must be managed simultaneously,” emphasize the researchers.

Harmful effects on public health

they think that management is “too complex and often unaffordable”, causing fertility control to “sustain and even increase the already high numbers of feral cats in cities and rural areas.thereby protecting it (in the short term) and then increasing its destructive effects on biodiversity (in the long term)”.

A man is feeding some stray cats. ef

While compelling, the medium-term goal of environmental laws should be the eradication of feral cats, including cat colonies.”, emphasize scientists. Think “necessary” “To raise public awareness about the harmful effects of cats on biodiversity and public health” through effective communication.

Scientists see “contradictory” proposals to “improve and sustain a strong driver of biodiversity loss” by the same Ministry responsible for meeting the goals of the 2030 Agenda, including halting biodiversity loss.

And they add that wildlife management can sometimes trigger “ethical challenges,” prioritizing the well-being and fate of individuals of a few preferred animal species over the conservation of species, populations, ecosystem functioning and global biodiversity. will promote “poor and homogeneous biotas dominated by a handful of privileged animals”.

For all these reasons, they emphasize that legal instruments must “seek” outright.Reducing the negative effects of free-roaming cats by minimizing their numbers as soon as possible and limiting outdoor access for owned cats as much as possible.”

It suffices to mention that there are more than 9,000 stray cats in Barcelona alone to give an idea of ​​the scale of the problem. The letter was signed by researchers from Pablo de Olavide University, Doñana Biology Station-CSIC, Miguel Hernández University, Mediterranean Institute for Advanced Studies-CSIC-UIB and the Institute of Natural Products and Agrobiology-CSIC.

A schematic representation of the known impacts of feral cat colonies on biodiversity and humans. CSIC

Letter from Spanish researchers:

Preliminary bill for animal protection, rights and welfare:


Environment department contact

Source: Informacion


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