(to read this current scientific paper in full, click on the line above)
This revealing research shows that only the following predators endanger nestlings especially of native birds:
The Norwegian Ship Rat, the Brushtail Possum, the Harrier Hawk and to a lesser extent Thrushes and Quails.
Cats are not even mentioned as predators in this context
Very interesting reading!
BAD SCIENCE DISTORTS STRAY CAT FACTS:
The topic of stray cat predation on wildlife, especially birds, has become a battleground of competing opinions on whether stray cats should be trapped, neutered and returned to their environment, or if they should be viewed as invasive species and eradicated. A careful analysis of the science concludes there is no strong support for the viewpoint that cats are a serious threat to wildlife, except in certain instances of fragile populations in isolated or fragmented ecosystems.
Hundreds of news outlets reported on a Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service study in 2013 claiming “free-ranging domestic cats kill 1.4 to 3.7 billion birds and 6.9 to 20.7 billion mammals annually” in the U.S. The absurd estimates presented in the study of bird mortalities represented 28.5 to 75.5% of the estimated 4.7 billion landbirds in all of North America. If these figures were even remotely accurate, birds would have been wiped out in North America long ago. A careful examination of the mathematical model developed by the researches revealed one inflated input after another. Yet, this bad science continues to be quoted over and over again by the media and wildlife organizations.
Too often, very flawed science is used to wrongly blame cats for declining wildlife populations and to bolster the false case against Trap-Neuter-Return. The so-called “Wisconsin Study” is one of the most misquoted and misunderstood of these studies. It is not reliable scientific research. The Wisconsin Study is not even a real study—in fact, it is a proposal for a study that never actually took place. The Wisconsin Study’s “data” have never been peer-reviewed, and only parts of it have been selectively published.
The authors published several articles attempting to project the potential impact of free-ranging cats on the bird population in the state of Wisconsin. The authors themselves identify their estimates of cat predation on birds as guesses. When interviewed about the estimates of cat predation from the study, one of its authors, Dr. Stanley Temple, disavowed them, saying, “Those figures were from our proposal. They aren’t actual data; that was just our projection to show how bad it might be.”
As this false data circulates, people aren’t getting the truth about wildlife and cats. The American Bird Conservancy, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and other groups have carelessly wielded these flawed statistics when opposing Trap-Neuter-Return. Such high-profile sources have a responsibility to properly examine their sources and provide Americans with scientifically-supported information.
Worse, the data is circulated by unknowing media. Both the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times have repeatedly cited statistics attributed to the Wisconsin Study in the past—but their reporters and editors have apparently failed to investigate the accuracy of these numbers.
Bad science robs communities of real solutions—and costs cats their lives. Trap-Neuter-Return is the only effective approach for managing stray cat colonies. Sound policy decisions about animals’ best interests cannot be made based on unsound science.
Real science shows that removing stray cats creates a “vacuum effect”: Cats from neighboring areas move into the newly available space to take advantage of food and shelter. These cats soon begin to breed to capacity. Before long, just as many cats can be found in the area as were there before.
Scientific research has observed the vacuum effect across many species. Removing cats from an area is a futile effort—one that cannot succeed. Municipalities engaged in any type of catch and kill efforts are fighting a cruel, endless, losing battle against nature that is a gross waste of taxpayer dollars.
One of the few documented efforts to remove a population of cats by catch and kill occurred on a uninhabited (sub-Antarctic) island: Marion Island. It took 19 years of ruthless methods—methods impossible to recreate in areas inhabited by people, such as introducing disease and poisoning—to clear the island of cats. Over those 19 years, scientists noticed that when cats were cleared from a “preferred” area of the island, cats from another area took their place. In other words, even as scientists worked to kill the cats, they observed the vacuum effect.
Trap-Neuter-Return avoids the vacuum effect. Trap-Neuter-Return stabilizes the population, which then decreases over time, because the cats are neutered. It also improves the cats’ health by ending the stresses associated with mating and pregnancy.
(to read why one important manufacturer in New Zealand had to withdraw their products from the market, click on the line above)
When you have read it you really wonder how many of our pets are running around with those useless microchips implanted and with their owners unaware.
4. These are our latest newsletters:
NEWSLETTER 7 (September) 2018
Dear Friends and Cat Lovers:
this is our sixth newsletter in 2018. As you can see, it contains information about ourselves, the latest developments in our fight against FNDC and now also NRC and important links.
on our website https://northlandcatsinbalance.com where you’ll find everything you need to know
about our group, the projects we are dealing with and other valuable information. This time and especially because it is a question of immediate interest for all people who prefer a well balanced nature, we post the following article on:
1080 poison: science and facts
By Dr Jo Pollard (BSc (Hons, PhD)
Any true scientist would be intensely annoyed to see wishful thinking and casual observations (rather than properly replicated experiments with appropriate controls) masquerading as science, especially when lots of people actually believed in it. Quinn Whiting-O’Keefe is a true scientist. In the film “Poisoning Paradise” he is so incensed at the lack of science and fact underlying 1080 poison use in NZ his words are like steam escaping. The same feelings led me to two years of reading and tapping furiously away at a keyboard to expose the facts on 1080 poison, as given to our Environmental Risk Management Authority (ERMA) for their review in 2007. Here they are:
1080 is toxic to species of all forms of life from microbes to plants, insects, birds and humans. In mammals, it causes birth defects, reduced fertility, damage to reproductive organs and other organs including the brain and heart. Anecdotal reports indicate there may also be a link with cancer but there has been no research at all on this. Claims that 1080 poison does not cause mutations arise from a study on mice, that ERMA was unable to get a full copy of.
1080 has an amazing ability to spread. Again and again in research, “control” samples have become accidentally contaminated. Because 1080 poison is highly soluble it spreads very fast in water and also up food chains. For example, researchers found 100% mortality of aphids on broad bean plants grown in 0.00005% 1080 solution. Likewise, 1080 has been shown to pass readily into milk andmeat.
When 1080 poisoned cereal pellets are dropped from the air, the poison in cereal dust is found over the entire treated area and beyond. Very little is known about the spread of this toxic dust but it was found 1 km beyond the application zone 5 days after an aerial 1080 drop (sampling for dust further away, and later after the drop, was not carried out). There has been no research into how long 1080 poison persists in treated areas. In the ERMA documents it was recognised that it might persist indefinitely at low concentrations. It has been found to persist in many varied situations including dry places, cool water, water lacking aquatic plants, some types of soil and in carcasses. The rate of breakdown of 1080 poison in New Zealand forests and streams is unknown, but it is extremely slow at around 5oC. Thus ERMA’s Agency warned that “No studies have been conducted using standard international guidelines to assess the route and rate of degradation of 1080 in soil. The rate of such degradation under New Zealand conditions is uncertain.” And regarding water: ”Overall, the relevance of the aquatic plant/water studies to the degradation of 1080 in water in NZ is not clear.”
In the ERMA review, there was no consideration of effects of breakdown products which include highly toxic fluorocitrate.
The ERMA review also brought to light that, among several unexpected properties of 1080 poison, degradation occurred in biological samples stored at -20oC, meaning that most results from water and soil sampling to date are useless because storage conditions were either not reported or were not adequate. Birds reported killed by 1080 poisoned cereal baits include morepork, weka, tomtits and grey warbler and animals known to eat cereal bait include kea, kaka, little spotted kiwi, kokako, saddleback, kakariki, pukeko, insects, koura and lizards. DoC’s reporting on bird deaths cannot be relied upon. Their usual method of assessing bird numbers, 5 minute counts, were acknowledged as useless by ERMA’s Agency who reported that “Five-minute counts have been identified as not reliable for assessing population impacts after 1080 operations unless high mortality occurs..and not reliable for rarer species”.
It was recognised in the ERMA review that certain species (survivors that are fastest to breed and disperse within the vacant habitat) will be most likely to recover after aerial 1080 poisoning. This will apply not just to birds but all organisms including invertebrates (“1080 is highly toxic to terrestrial invertebrates” – ERMA’s Agency) which are an integral part of food chains and nutrient recycling. Thus ecological effects of the poisoning will be far-reaching and favour rapidly colonising species.
Not surprisingly then, 1080 poison is now clearly associated with plagues of pests including stoats, rats and mice, that have devastating effects on native species. For example, a DoC employee reported in 2002: “Four months after an effective possum and rat knock-down by a 20,000-ha aerial 1080 operation over Tongariro Forest, stoats reappeared in the centre of the forest and began killing kiwi chicks. So far five of the 11 chicks have been predated, and all in the centre of the treatment area.” Closer to home, a West Coast DoC employee reported on kaka in 2003 “A dramatic increase in fledgling mortality has been noted coinciding with a change to the pest control regime. Seventeen female chicks were monitored since the breeding season and excluding missing birds, eleven of fourteen fledglings have died. Nine of these were probably (some certainly) killed by stoats.. The pest control regime was an aerial 1080 pollard operation in October .” Going on to report on rowi: ”The current rowi breeding season has been very disappointing. All 14 of the monitored chicks were dead by early January, with stoat predation being the major cause..a huge irruption of rats and stoats, coincided with the height of the rowi breeding season.. Stoats completely saturated the core area during December and January..Similarly, rat numbers were 5-10 times higher this season compared with the same time last season.” (West Coast, April 2003).
Our remaining native species need all the genetic diversity they have if they are to survive forthcoming challenges such as drought, storms, disease and habitat modification, therefore they should be managed with extreme care. New, unique species are still being discovered regularly, making nonsense of claims that DoC knows what its doing with aerially spread poisons. DoC’s legal duty under the Conservation Act is to manage natural resources for conservation purposes so their willingness to allow the killing of massive numbers of native animals is nothing short of criminal.
Contrary to DoC’s scaremongering about possums preying on birds, numerous studies have shown that possums are principally herbivores. Where possums are currently invading new areas and decimating favoured plants such as mistletoe, it would make sense to target them there, using humane, safe techniques such as hunting, live traps, and well-designed kill traps. I have operated a natural pet food business for the last 6 years and the demand for the raw product has been escalating as the world becomes increasingly short of animal protein, and as Asian pet ownership increases dramatically. The Asian markets for natural NZ pet food are insatiable and it makes sense to employ hunters and use pests as a resource rather than squander our 200 million-year-old natural heritage. Like DoC, the Animal Health Board has no rational basis for using aerial 1080 poison to kill possums. Its arguments were left in tatters in the ERMA review. Firstly, the RTCI, the possum catch index that underlies the AHB’s strategy, was deemed unreliable (Agency, Appendix F). Then both economic experts got stuck in. Professor Ross Cullen, regarding market perceptions of NZ’s Tb status: “No research is cited in the Application that studies the dollar losses occurring from the loss of one or more export markets..Clough & Nixon (2000) conclude…a trade ban would be difficult to sustain under current international trade rules, the risk is very small and the expected value of an avoided trade ban is modest” and “The Application…fails to demonstrate evidence or understanding of economic research on use of 1080, pest control or Tb…this section of the application is unsophisticated, uses crude approaches to estimate even the largest benefits and costs associated with the use of 1080, lacks awareness of many pertinent economic research techniques, seems unaware of almost all relevant economic research.” And from NZ health experts: “around 3% of all human Tb cases are M. bovis…The Ministry of Health attributes these low rates to herd testing and the widespread pasteurisation of milk”…“even if bovine Tb were prevalent in cattle it would not present a real risk to human health”…”We recommend that in making its decisions, ERMA deemphasise the importance of bovine Tb”. Then from ERMA’s Agency: “the applicants have provided little factual support to demonstrate efficacy of aerial compared with ground application of 1080 as it relates to possums and Tb control”…”the relative contributions of possums and other wildlife (particularly ferrets) to Tb infection of cattle and deer herds are not clearly defined at this time.” And finally, from the ERMA Committee itself: “there is no evidence to support the suggestion that trade is significantly reduced by not having bovine Tb-free status.”
Since there are now relatively few Tb-infected farms (due to amalgamation of farms, herd testing and movement control) a relatively cheap, harmless and effective approach to prevent livestock becoming infected by wildlife would be to control pests only around farm boundaries. In this way Tb-infected wildlife (which may include pigs, cats, hedgehogs, ferrets, stoats, weasels, rats, deer and feral stock) could be identified, the livestock would be protected, and the vacant habitat created as pests were eliminated would draw further potential Tb vectors out of wild areas for elimination. Additionally, livestock can be vaccinated against Tb. If stupidity prevails and another aerial 1080 poison operation goes ahead, some minimum controls are imperative. An untreated buffer zone of at least 1 km should be allowed around any catchment used for human or stock drinking water, taking care that all tributaries are identified. In addition, environmental effects must be monitored. Last year, our Conservation Authority recommended that the Government require the Animal Health Board to begin monitoring for changes in forest health. Any such monitoring must be comprehensive, competent and independent. History tells us that left to DoC or the AHB, the results would be frustratingly inadequate.”
As we all know in the meantime, after having read intensive research, it is indeed amazing, isn’t it?:
“Any engaging and promising rubbish like the one about saving our forests and birds by poisoning them has much better prospects of being believed than the, oh so confusing reality. Reality often has gaps, comes up with surprises and sometimes even contradicts itself, whereas an elaborate lie appears unrippled and perfectly composed: Everything looks fitting there and is even made palatable for everyone, or in other words: The lie is finely tuned to the expectations of the complacent public. And if this public has been drilled for years to the omnipresence of cats as bird killers, it will swallow any stupid opinion and “explanations” along these lines.”
Wellington Mayor Justin Lester is refusing to heed calls to banish cats from the city as it tries to go predator free.
The city was awarded $3.27 million in funding to go predator free, with plans to begin in Miramar and eventually remove pests across the city.
Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage has suggested owners could consider not replacing their cats after they die and The AM Show host Duncan Garner says they need to go. Humans are probably the worst predators but we’re not going to kill humans. But Mr Lester told The AM Show he wouldn’t quite go that far and most owners are being responsible with their pets.
“They keep their cats in at night, they put a bell on and that’s satisfactory,” he said. “That means the cats have a much reduced rate of catching birds and killing them.”
Garner suggested perhaps the owners that aren’t responsible are the problem, but Mr Lester said in Wellington the majority keep an eye on their pets.
“No one wants their cat to bring in a dead kākā… you don’t want to see that, you don’t want to see a [dead] tūī so people take precautions.”
• Cats have to go for predator-free NZ, says Duncan Garner
Mr Lester said cats shouldn’t be the main target when there are other animals roaming Wellington and preying on wildlife.
“They do [kill], that’s their nature, but we have to live with that, other things do as well. Humans are probably the worst predators but we’re not going to kill humans so let’s not be silly about it,” he said.
“Let’s make sure we can get some balance and we take precautions. We’re focused on getting rid of rats, stoats, weasels, possums.”
Watch the full interview with Justin Lester here:
Have you recently lost your cat?
Did your pet disappear suddenly?
Are you wondering what has happened to it?
Our cats are becoming much maligned creatures in New Zealand.
A new, unnecessary law, endangering our cats, has been proposed.
They are being blamed, unjustifiably, for alleged declining bird populations
and are now the scapegoats for real threats to wildlife
like e.g. the human impact.
Make your friends and neighbours aware of what’s going on and what’s in the
The new Dog Bylaws should be a warning!
• “Northland Cats in Balance” represent more than 700 cat lovers of the
• Our database includes now more than 150 members. We have
connections with “Feline Rights”(Wellington) and with “Companion Cat
Coalition” (Auckland), and all of us stand up for the truth about and
justice for cats.
• Although you already know, for the sake of alertness, we repeat that FNDC’s Deputy Mayor
Tania McInnes has voted in favour of this newly proposed law (which will include cat
rangers, compulsory micro-chipping, night curfews for cats, registration etc.) at the LGNZ
conference in July 2017 although there has never been any consultation with the public of
the Far North nor within the Council. Her vote was based entirely on her own private and
biased opinion about cats and has nothing to do with informed decision making. And, with a
result of 51:49, her vote was most probably the decisive vote. Tania McInnes is closely
connected with “Bay Bush Action”, a group of self-appointed conservation fanatics.
Therefore, her vote has to be considered prejudiced. On the contrary, Whangarei District
Council voted against the proposed law, after intensive debates and consultation with the
public. Why has this not happened in The Far North? Is this what John Carter calls “Let’s
work together” or “Transparency?”
• As you also know “Northland Cats in Balance” have complained about such an
undemocratic way of decision/law making to the Ombudsman and will keep you informed
in our next newsletters.
• In November 2017 we have joined forces with the “Bay of Islands Watchdogs” Group. They
represent more than a thousand ratepayers of the Far North and together we’ll certainly
create more momentum in our fight against unreasonable bureaucracy.
• We are now also connected with “BAY OF ISLANDS ANIMAL RESCUE”
(http://www.boianimalrescue.org.nz) run by Josie (021 261 8552 or 403 7768)
and Summer (021022 06951) These ladies are doing a great job to help our animals
(especially where SPCA fails (as so often!). Please help them with whatever you can spare (blankets, cushions, food, bowls, trays etc. ) and yes, donations of funds are of course also very welcome!
Our slogan is:
When a cat has killed 10 rats it has saved the lives of hundreds of birds.
But since cats are the only efficient link in the New Zealand food chain
which can keep ferocious predators on native birds like rats and stoats
under control this well known truth should be amended by:
“A cat who has killed ten rats and only one single stoat has actually
saved the lives of thousands of birds.”
WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION IN AOTEAROA
OPINION – Bob Kerridge, animal welfarist.
The average peace-loving New Zealander may not be aware of it but, apparently, we are at war. If you find this difficult to comprehend, and a little frightening, for verification you need go no further than listen to the war-like rhetoric emanating from the people at Predator Free-2050. This new, but generously funded, movement has a clear mission: To be rid of all predators, (whatever or whoever they may be), by the year 2050, with its website calling us to arms urging us to ‘unite to fight’. The dialogue from command headquarters tells us that the ‘threat of invasion is here’ but that “we have an army of tens of thousands of New Zealanders’ to undertake ‘a military campaign to push the invaders back, just as we did in the last two world wars’.
This disturbing talk exemplifies a dangerous path down which we are being led which could result in an ecological disaster because of this new-found obsession to become predator free. In a recently published paper two eminent ecologists, Professor Wayne Linklater and Dr Jamie Steer, are critical of the methodology being employed: ‘While Predator Free-2050 is well intentioned’, they concluded, ‘New Zealand’s future conservation policies need to be less bombastic, and better informed by the environmental, ecological and social sciences’. In a separate interview Linklater went further when he stated that New Zealanders would regard being ‘cruelty free’ a far greater goal than ‘predator free’, an aspiration with which I totally concur.
Not surprisingly the troops being deployed to free us of all these predators is the Department of Conservation, (DoC), who of course are willing and able to do the job. In my naivety I used to believe that conservation meant preserving our special and unique biodiversity, until I heard the previous Minister, Maggie Barry, proudly proclaiming for all to hear that ‘my guys at Doc are incredibly good at killing things’. Given there are many dedicated individuals employed by DoC who labour long and hard to preserve the lives of many of our endangered species, and more power to them, this was a foolish and heartless statement to make. It is little wonder that a number of previously employed high ranking scientists are describing the current atmosphere at DoC as ‘toxic’ with a ‘culture of war and a lot of discontent’.
Dr Arian Wallach of the University of Technology, Sydney, and Fellow of the Charles Darwin University, described the essence of conservation succinctly when she stated: ‘The aim of conservation is not to generate an ever increasing (dead) body count, but to guide human behaviours to enable the rest of the earth’s species to flourish’. The major weapon in DoC’s vast armoury, and akin to the H-bomb, is sodium fluoroacetate, (1080), a cheap and particularly nasty pesticide which is as indiscriminate in whom it targets as it is efficient in killing them. Registered as the most toxic pesticide by the World Health Organisation it was the only chemical weapon reportedly found in Saddam Hussein’s arsenal. 1080 is outlawed in a large number of countries, but to our absolute shame New Zealand has been using it since it was first trialled here in 1954. Despite growing public abhorrence, we are now purchasing 80% of the total supply, making us by far the largest user in the world.
The evils of 1080 are well documented including its permanent effect on our flora and fauna, destroying micro-organisms and insects, (the diet of many birds), the contamination of our waterways, human health risks, the slow and agonising death of untargeted animals, (both large and small), and also, ironically, many of the native birds it’s meant to be protecting. And yet, despite this history I am told that last year 350 million poison baits were dropped on our little country, thus perpetuating what can only be described as a national disgrace.
So just who are these invaders that, as Predator Free-2050 advocates, need this military effort to defeat ‘because it is a very insidious war they have waged’ against us’? The irony is that these so-called invading species have no ability or desire to declare war, or any concept of what is being plotted against them, or why, neither have they the ability to protect themselves or fight back. In fact it’s a bit of a one-sided war, rather more a premeditated annihilation I would suggest.
In reality the selection of predators that need to be killed is at the behest of the greatest predator of them all, humans, either because we just don’t like them, or they are introduced species and not native to our shores, or we have the mistaken belief that if we exterminate them our ecology will be rescued from certain peril. In general the reasons are unscientific and immoral, as are the weapons used against them. Unbelievably the latest animal to be selected as a targeted predator will astound and horrify most people, but will delight rats, and Gareth Morgan. In an incredulous move the current Minister of Conservation, Eugene Sage, wants to see Kiwi wandering the urban gardens of Wellington, which would not exactly be their choice of where they would wish to reside given the human dangers associated with urban living and their lack of natural bush protection to which they are accustomed. The Minister noted that to achieve this urban dream cats would have to go, parroting the demands of the insidious ‘cats to go’ campaign, requiring ‘having cats inside, and when your cat dies then not replacing it’. So it’s cats or kiwis.
Local and Regional Councils throughout New Zealand, who have never before shown any interest in cats, are now wanting to illegally label them as ‘pest cats’ so they can be destroyed without question, again acceding to Morgan’s dictate that ‘any cat that is free to range should be a dead cat’.
That constitutes another declaration of war, and of course weapons of mass destruction exist, especially for cats. This one comes in the form of the unpronounceable paraaminopropiophenone, or PAPP as it is generally known, currently and unashamedly being trialled by the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council. PAPP is as hideous as 1080 coming in the form of a paste which, once ingested, starts a process of dying which is inhumane and painfully slow, with death averaging an horrendous 3 hours and 51 seconds to occur. During the process signs of toxicosis occur, (head nodding, lethargy, uncontrolled movement and lack of balance), eventually advancing to unresponsiveness and collapse but fully conscious and aware, with final unconsciousness occurring only moments before death.
The persecution of cats, the country’s most popular and adored companion animal, is as unfathomable as it is without foundation. Ecologist Gary J Patonec, (USA), commented:
‘What I find inconsistent in an otherwise scientific debate about biodiversity is how the indictment of cats has been pursued in spite of the evidence’.
I have to question, just what is the motivation that drives people to hate so vehemently that they are quite content in subjecting cats and other sentient beings to such extremes of torture before killing them? But remember we are, apparently, at war and the conservation soldiers are doing it to make the world a better place being totally oblivious to the probable ecological consequences of their extermination practices. The slaughter of one species on the pretext of saving another for the greater good in the name of conservation is reprehensible.
Predator Free-2050 claims to have an ‘army of tens of thousands of New Zealanders’, many of them recruited from children whose schools have received money and complimentary traps if they accede to the terms and conditions of war. Others are equally innocent urban families where the aim is to have ‘a trap in every fifth backyard across New Zealand’ which is creating a generation who, and I am quoting ‘find killing animals weirdly addictive’.
Such a trend is deeply disturbing and I wonder where, in contrast, is the public outrage?
Because these trends are often introduced under stealth perhaps people are not aware of where this war is leading us, what weapons of mass destruction are being used, or what the consequences will be. And where are the mechanisms in place that will protect animals from such abuse, or are there none? Are we just going to sit back and watch New Zealanders fall into moral decay?
French ornithologist Jean Dorst conveys some sobering and relevant words of wisdom:
‘Whatever the metaphysical position is adopted and whatever place is given to the human species, man has no right to destroy a species of plant of animal on the pretext that it is useless. We have no right to exterminate what we have not created’.
I have no hesitation in adding my heartfelt support to that sentiment, as my dream for our country has always been that we respect and love all life, and that humans, animals and the environment can coexist in harmony, in addition to a belief that we can, if it is our will, realise that dream. Keep believing.
Bob Kerridge can be contacted on:
Mobile: 0274 959 449