Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Invasive Species Comment

I received a private email comment (I wish all commenters used the comment box below each blog post...) on my recent story about invasive species in NJ.

I can't believe you praised that article - it was one of the most idiotic, ill-informed pieces I have ever read! PS: feral cats aren't the they didn't mention mice & rats. So if we kill all the ferals, we'll be overrun by rodents. If you were genuinely worried about Endangered NJ, you'd concentrate on humans as the #1 invasive species here (specifically developers).
My response: I thought the Star-Ledger article was well done. The information was accurate and succinct - not a science paper, but for mainstream readers. It covered a wide variety of species. I recommend it.

I think the commenter is definitely a cat person. She locked onto one item - feral cats - in an article that covered much more. Those cats who have "gone wild" do threaten many birds and especially endangered and threatened ones that are beachnesters.

She's right that habitat loss by human intervention is a bigger problem. But humans in NJ are a very naturally occurring species.

This has been well documented. You can read a report online at that includes a five-state review of New York, New Jersey, Florida, California, and Hawaii.

Domestic cats are considered primarily responsible for the extinction of 33 bird species since the 1600s. Many managed cat colonies occur in public parks and beaches, where they pose a significant threat to wildlife and human health.

Since 1995, the City of Cape May, NJ has sponsored a program for people who register their cat colonies with the City’s Animal Control Department. There are currently 12 registered feral cat caretakers in Cape May. This program has been widely cited as a model for other New Jersey coastal communities to use to control their stray and feral cat populations.

The commenter had an emotional response to the article. I understand that. I understand it when people in NJ react emotionally to controlled hunts to reduce deer population. My own town had a good number of "Stop the deer slaughter" signs on lawns earlier this year, and I'm sure they will be back again soon.

People change and destroy habitats. We have a responsibility to correct that when we can and manage species when we can't.

We created the feral cat population. It's not a naturally occurring "species." As with other species that become invasive, we need to deal with it. Letting invasive species take their "natural" course is actually quite unnatural. They were not meant to be here and we need to protect those species that are natural to the area.

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