Cats taking toll on island’s wildlife

This letter is in response to Rebecca Gorsline’s article “Stop Blaming Cats for Everything,” which appeared in the March 24 TGI. Contrary to your feelings on the American Bird Conservancy, feral cats are destructive to native wildlife.

I am a supporter of the Nature Conservancy. The mission of the Nature Conservancy is to conserve the lands and waters on which all life depends. Much of the effort is to restore native plants and wildlife. The Animal Planet Channel has described cats as nature’s perfect land predator. Cats are very efficient hunters. It has been proven that when feral cats and other feral animals are controlled and removed from the environ-ment, native bird and small wildlife returns.

One example is the Moomomi Sand dunes on Molokai. In 1999 the Nature Conservancy spearheaded a program to preserve the sand dune. During conservation work, researcher found piles of bird wings in the kiawe thicket, proof that feral cats used to stalk the native seabirds. Ever since conservation efforts were done to remove feral animals (cats, dogs, mongoose, rats) and non-native kiawe trees, the number of wedge tail shearwater nests have grown from only three in 1999 to 704 nests in 2012.

Closer to home, since 2010 the Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauai has developed a Natural Resource Management Program which included the removal of feral animals (cats, dogs, pigs, deer) from within the base. Wedge tail shearwater birds, which were once limited to a restricted, fenced-in area, now nest and thrive throughout the beach and coastline.

Whenever I have the privilege of sitting at Majors Bay beach at night, the shearwaters gracefully fly over me as they leave their burrows and head toward the ocean. During a night walk on the beach path at Majors Bay I saw shearwater birds scurrying along in places that they never nested before. These events never happened until efforts were made to control feral cats and other feral animals.

Finally, the destruction of wildlife by feral cats is also noted in other countries. I had the privilege of touring several National Parks in South Australia. At the park headquarters are posters informing visitors how destructive cats are to the native wildlife. Many small Australian marsupial animals are rare or close to extinction due to feral cat predation.

Cats make fine pets. The problem is that when we have large feral cat populations (Walmart, Wailua Marina) we have the perfect predator that is destructive to wildlife.

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Placido Valenciano is a resident of Lihue.

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