Monday, June 30, 2008

Feral Cats on San Nicholas Island to be Killed

Earlier this month, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the US Navy released an environmental assessment of a restoration plan for endangered and protected native species on San Nicholas Island off the coast of California. The plan proposes to have approximately 200 feral cats killed by use of leg-hold traps, dogs, and shotguns; the plan is expected to be completed within a year.

San Nicholas is a member of California's eight Channel Islands. Measuring nine miles in length and three and one-half miles wide, it has very little vegetation, an arid climate, and is prone to high winds and erosion. The island served as the setting for Scott O'Dell's 1960 best-selling children's novel, Island of the Blue Dolphins.

(Picture Source: Wikipedia)

Since 1933, it has been owned and occupied exclusively by the Navy; which maintains missile and aircraft launch facilities, as well as a radar tracking unit. Approximately 200 sailors are stationed on the island, and it is closed to the public.

Cats have been living on the island for the last 150 years, if not longer. It is believed that they were first transported to the island during the 1800s by ranchers and fishermen to serve as mousers and companions. The cats currently residing on the island are their descendants.

Although the USFWS have not produced evidence that the cats' presence is having a harmful effect on other species, they have rejected not only pleas to allow them to stay but also the use of both humane traps and contraceptives. They have opposed both TNR proposals and suggestions of relocating the cats off island. Once the cats are caught/trapped, they will either be shot or administered a lethal injection. "This is the most humane and feasible alternative we've found," said Jane Hendron, of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service based in Carlsbad as stated to the Ventura County Star newspaper.

Eradication attempts often fail and can be counter productive. Eradication is rarely total and the reproduction cycle starts over again. A controlled, stable colony prevents this “vacuum effect.” Not to mention, there have been several cases where eradication has worsened the conditions for birds and other animals. On Amsterdam Island in the Indian Ocean, biologists eradicated feral cats to protect ground-nesting seabirds. The black rat and house mice population immediately increased (because their predator was removed), and they began to prey upon the birds. Also, in New Zealand, biologists poisoned the rat population, so the stoats (who mainly preyed upon the rats) shifted their diet from rats to the endangered birds. The same is possible for San Nicholas Island; if the feral cats are eradicated, the deer mouse population and the native island fox population will most likely increase, endangering the bird populations.

Alley Cat Rescue encourages our members to contact the Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife office and express your disappointment with their decision to kill the feral cats living on San Nicholas Island.


Contact Information:
Telephone: 760 431-9440
Fax: 760 431-5901

Mailing Address:
6010 Hidden Valley Road
Carlsbad, CA 92011-4219

Monday, June 02, 2008

Animals in Aftermath of Sichuan Earthquake: People 4 Chinese Animals

On May 12, 2008, an earthquake measuring 8.0Mw on the Richter scale hit China, claiming the lives of over 69,000 people and over 12 million animal lives. Countless dogs and cats are homeless, injured, and starving. Drinking water is polluted and there is a critical need for water pumps. Reportedly, there are some 30,000 pet dogs in one province alone, many of them now homeless.

Since the dog cull has been in effect, it is questionable if the government will allow rescue efforts to take place. Nevertheless, rescuers and volunteers are doing all they can to save as many animals as possible or at least offer them some relief amidst so much suffering. There is a desperate need for food for companion animals, and livestock feed, not to mention vaccines and other medications.

Various international agencies are helping in the disaster areas, including Chinese animal organizations; which are greatly under funded. When rescue efforts are over, Chinese animal groups will continue to help the animals rescued as a result of this tragedy.

The Misha Foundation (a federal, non-profit charity) has been working with several groups of animal caring people in Beijing and Shanghai. These groups dedicate their spare time and whatever little money they have to save abandoned animals. It is in great part, thanks to them, that animals in their areas have experienced care and compassion.

For more information on the Misha Foundation and how to help animals in need in China, please visit their website and check out their People 4 Chinese Animals project.