New Zealand in Uproar Over Quest to Eradicate Cats

Gareth Morgan dreams of a country where birds can flourish
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 22, 2013 11:27 AM CST
Updated Jan 26, 2013 7:29 AM CST
Cats, begone?   (?)

(Newser) – Gareth Morgan is not a cat lover—and a great many New Zealanders apparently aren't a Gareth-Morgan lover. The AP reports on the environmentalist's quest to make the country a haven for native birds by getting rid of cats, and the outrage that has quickly followed. Morgan has launched an anti-feline campaign, dubbed Cats To Go, that asks New Zealanders to neuter their current cat and not replace it when it heads to that big litterbox in the sky. (Though he notes that euthanasia "is an option.")

The fact that his site bears an image of a kitten with devil's horns and refers to the feline as "a natural born killer" probably isn't helping his quest, made all the harder because New Zealand really loves its cats. Nearly one in two households own one, giving it one of the highest ownership rates in the world (it's more like one in three in the US). But as the AP explains, pre-cats, New Zealand's native birds enjoyed predator-free living, to the point where the Kiwi evolved to be flightless. One scientist says cats have contributed to the extinction of at least half a dozen local bird species. But others argue that cats may actually help native birds by reducing the population of rodents, which sometimes feed on bird eggs.

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