Sunday, May 22, 2011

A Fishy Story

A California Fish Tale: one that should be heeded by all those who think catching-and-killing feral cats in an easy remedy to cat overpopulation.
In 2007 the New York Times reported that: “The poison did not work and neither did the hook and bobber. The electrical probes were somewhat effective, but do not even ask about the explosives.
“For the last decade, the state of California has waged a Sisyphean battle against the northern pike, a fish and a voracious eating machine. In the mid-1990s, when pike were first found in Lake Davis, a Sierra Nevada reservoir about four miles, or six kilometers, north of here, the discovery set off a panic over the potential effect on the local trout-fishing and tourist industries as well as the possibility of the fish migrating to fragile ecosystems downstream. Since then, millions of dollars and thousands of man-hours have been spent trying to spike the pike.
“But while the methods, including poison, electro-fishing, explosives and decidedly low-tech nets, have varied, the results have remained the same.
"We've taken 65,000 pike out of the lake," said Steve Martarano, a spokesman for the California Department of Fish and Game. "And we haven't made a dent."
"This is a top-of-the-line predator," said Ed Pert, the project manager. "If we don't get it this time, we may need to rethink things."
The lake was closed after Labor Day to prepare for the watery assault. The plan is simple: poison the fish with 17,000 gallons, or 64,000 liters, of rotenone, a commonly used pesticide that is absorbed through the gills and blocks the ability to process oxygen. Rotenone is widely considered safe for mammals and other nongilled animals, though some concerns have been raised about links to Parkinson's disease and some types of cancer.
It is not the first time the state has used rotenone in Lake Davis.
In 1997, officials used a powdered form of the poison, which fouled the lake, Portola's longtime water supply. (The town now primarily draws its water from wells.) The state later approved a $9.2 million settlement with the city and the county for businesses, homeowners and local residents. And, two years later, the pike were back.
No one knows exactly how the northern pike got from its native waters to Lake Davis.  "They're a voracious fast-growing predator. We don't want them around," said Peter Moyle, a fish biologist at UC-Davis who specializes in invasive species.
Sadly, we have similar thinking when it comes to environmental groups, the U.S. D.A. and feral cats: All these “experts”  think of only 2 ways: (1) Go in and catch-and-kill. (2) Ban the feeding of cats.
Well neither works and actually makes everything worse:  Other cats quickly move in to repopulate vacated areas. And starving the cats certainly does not work either, and definitely makes the situation worse.  Hungry cats will now cross busy highways to find food somewhere, and find food they will. There is trash everywhere in America. In every alley, behind every cafĂ©, food store, convenience store, fast food place. Americans throw away millions of pounds of food every day. And cats go in and ransack our trash. Not to mention all the rodents that are attracted to this available food source. Now cats also  keep the rodents populations down to a large extent. This was the very reason they became domesticated in the first place.  So imagine the rodent population explosion if we take away their chief predator?
Many islands have sad tales to tell of this very thing happening when, in their infinite wisdom, they decided to kill all the cats for raiding bird nests. Rodent populations escalated, and they raided the very nests the environmentalists were trying to save.
And, in the meanwhile, despite feeding bans and killing feral cats, the breeding of feral litters goes on. The short-sightedness of this blows one’s mind. How can otherwise-intelligent individuals not see this?  Not see that they have millions of willing volunteers already taking care of feral colonies and stopping the breeding?
I am not sure what will change their minds. Maybe if everyone who has common sense and compassion will ask every environmental group BEFORE they donate money: What is your policy on feral cats?
Of course the environmental groups are going to say: Cats are Public Enemy #1.
Don’t believe them, Do your own research.
Even the American Bird Conservancy (ABC scapegoats the cat and uses exaggerated numbers to blame the cats for the demise of birds and other wildlife) recently spelled out the perils facing the Bicknell’s Thrush: “This species is at risk from threats to its breeding habitat, including development, acid rain, and climate change. Its migration route is not well-known, but is assumed to follow a flyway along or near the East Coast of North America 
Potential threats during migration include collision with man-made structures such as communications towers, buildings, and wind turbines. Loss of Bicknell’s winter habitat has been severe and is ongoing due to agricultural conversion, logging, and charcoal production.”
 The Bicknell's thrush is an elusive neotropical migrant that breeds in the high elevation forests of northeastern North America and winters in the Caribbean. It is obvious that to protect this bird and many others:
We have to protect our American forests. We have to protect the wintering grounds in Central America being careful of the products we buy. And we have to make communication towers and wind turbines safer. Millions of birds lose their lives this way every year. It is up to us to get serious about saving birds, and get serious about implementing humane, nonlethal control of feral cats.
TNR reduces feral cats numbers. Some immediately as tame cats and kittens are removed for placement in homes. Feral colonies DO defend their territories against outside cats. Those few cats who do manage to enter will be caught and either rehomed or TNRd.
It’s really a win-win situation. Please help Alley Cat Rescue convince them, before they do some outlandish things (which they threaten to do) like feeding bans and even outlawing TNR for feral cats.
Tell them about Ed Pert, the project manager of the Pike Fish campaign:  "If we don't get it this time, we may need to rethink things." The anti-cat folks really need to “re-think things.”

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