Monday, February 04, 2013

Where the Wild Things Aren't

Speaking of wilderness, and since the small predators that live among us are on my mind (Little Cat has been doing nastily worse over the past week) I note in passing the summary of this "research" that appeared in the N.Y. Times:
"...the domestic cat as one of the single greatest human-linked threats to wildlife in the nation. More birds and mammals die at the mouths of cats, the report said, than from automobile strikes, pesticides and poisons, collisions with skyscrapers and windmills and other so-called anthropogenic causes."
(Cautionary note: the full article is likely behind the NYT paywall...)

While the Fire Direction Center has housed two of these fearsome predators for over ten years and as such has seen tangible proof of the moggies' ability to take various furred and feathered prey, I'm still not sure that I buy this story of the domestic cat as Death, the Destroyer of Worlds.

For one thing, it goes a long way towards absolving us hairless monkeys for all the other things we do that are tremendously effective in destroying wild animals. As Erik Loomis notes; humans in general are the single worst thing for wildlife on the living Earth. "Worse than land mines, worse than nuclear meltdown."

Perhaps the single greatest "story" of the last 200 years of life on Earth has been the emergence of humans as something beyond the global apex predator. Cats, dogs, tigers, sharks...all have to do their killing retail. We can literally reshape the earth. We level mountains, fill in canyons, we seem to be changing the global climate.

I'm not trying to argue against the conclusion that people need to neuter their pets, need to stop dumping them into fields and streets, should really keep them inside, or not keep them at all if "inside" is just too damn small for an animal to live comfortably (or if they are simply left outside in a yard bored out of their doggie skulls.

What I am saying is that the Great American Public - 95% of Joe and Molly Lunchpail (rising to 99.8% if they have any sort of Tea Party membership card somewhere on their person or a Romney sticker on their car) - is dumber than a goddamn stump about scientific facts in general, and this sort of "reporting" does them no favors.

Remember this when your Uncle Alex, the teabagging appliance salesman, tells you for the zillionteenth time how Global Warming isn't the problem, feral cats are the problem.


Syrbal/Labrys said...

Come now, know we have some darned intelligent (not to mention PRETTY) moss covered stumps here in the Nor'West....I don't think the Teabag Consortium is as smart AS a stump.

basilbeast said...

Speaking only from the POV of a cat owner and slave, I've seen enough cat roadkill, cats taken out by dogs, kids with air rifles and by other stupid kid stuff and adult stuff, etc etc ad nauseam, to know cats take punishment too.

As much for the protection of our neighborhood wildlife as for their own safety, our cats have always been insiders.

And long ago I figured out the word "responsibility" and its relative "accountability" are enormously said more than employed.


FDChief said...

No argument that being indoors is safer for the cats, too. But I'm not gonna die on that hill; it's a "can" IMO rather than a "must".

Lisa said...

Like you, I'm amazed at how much pseudo science exists in even "legitimate" papers -- where's the rigor?

Fine and discerning reportage has gone the way of the dino. Everything must be shocking today.