Thursday, January 06, 2011

ACTION ALERT: Key Largo Cats Under Fire

Here's our first fight in the new year. Right now in Florida, the Fish and Wildlife Service is trying to eradicate all feral cats in the National Key Deer Refuge. Now, we understand we must compromise when it comes to sensitive wildlife areas but after learning more information on this situation, it is sometimes hard to find compromise.

According to the St. Petersburg Times, "Because the hardwoods have been cleared from most of Key Largo for development, the Key Largo wood rat was classified as endangered in 1984, as was a relative, the Key Largo cotton mouse. Despite the protection provided by 8,000 acres of preserved habitat, over the last decade the rats and mice have nearly disappeared. ORCAT's cats may be responsible." 

About 350 stray and feral cats live in an exclusive island community, Ocean Reef Club a few miles south of Miami. These cats are the beneficiaries of a program called ORCAT, set up by Ocean Reef's homeowners in 1993, to care for the cats. Since starting this TNR program, the community cat population has been reduced from around 2000 cats to 350, with 100 of the cats residing at the community's animal care center. "To Ocean Reef residents, ORCAT is a huge success. To state and federal wildlife experts, it's a threat."

The Fish and Wildlife Service is blaming the cats for the decline in local wildlife populations and using their endangered status to push for the cats' eradication. But didn't we just read that the majority of the habitat in Florida has been cleared for development and that is what caused species to become endangered? Maybe it's because now they only have a small tract of land to survive on...all these species competing with each other and with humans? Why wasn't more being done when these animals were first considered endangered back in 1984? Now it's come down to once again, the conservationists claiming that nothing can be done about development or human activities, so the best they can do is to kill the cats so the other animals have one less obstacle in their way for survival. And despite ORCAT's TNR program and huge reduction of the cat population in that area, the Fish and Wildlife Service still says that no valid proof exists that TNR programs reduce numbers and they say that TNR actually promotes the dumping of cats and does nothing to reduce cat predation on wildlife. They go as far as to quote PETA as experts on feral cat management.

Humans are CLEARLY to blame for endangered species...leaving them a small tract of land to survive on is the reason for their decline, not cats. Humans are a far bigger threat to the wood rat and Largo cotton mouse than cats are. Please use the link to view the Fish and Wildlife Services' Integrated Predator Management Plan and let your opposition to their eradication plan be heard.

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