According to the information site based in Wellington stuff, New Zealand has 1.2 million pet cats and 41% of households have at least one in their home, one of the highest rates in the world. In addition to these domestic animals, there are also millions of wild cats, most of which have not been sterilized. But their presence in numbers on the archipelago would have a disastrous impact on bird populations, starting with the kiwi, the country’s symbol.

Relaying the estimates of the environmental defense group Forest and Bird, the British daily The Guardian recalls that cats are responsible for the death of 1.12 million birds each year. In some severe cases, felids even put some species on the path to extinction.

Interviewed by New Zealand Public Radio RNZ, the representative of a protection group mentions, for example, the case of the kéa nestors, “a species of parrot once ubiquitous in Nelson Lakes National Park” which was “decimated by almost 80% in the space of ten years”. Their nests would be invaded by rats, opossums and… feral cats.

Predator poisoning

In 2016, New Zealand legislation for the eradication of invasive species caused a stir. The project planned to rid the island of all its mammals “predators” by 2050 by poisoning with pesticides to protect native bird species. Rats, mice, stoats, ferrets, weasels and other opossums were among the species targeted, “but since cats are so loved, their eradication has become a taboo subject. It’s such a sensitive issue that cats have been left off the pest species list under the Predator Removal Project.” Explain RNZ.

The New Zealand public broadcaster suggests that some animal conservation groups would be reluctant to take a stand for eradication, citing animal welfare, but also for fear of backlash from the public. “cat lover”. They believe, however, that the animal constitutes “one of New Zealand’s worst environmental threats” and that its population should be regulated. “But New Zealanders’ views are changing. Agencies responsible for regulating pest populations and trapping opossums, stoats, ferrets and rats are beginning to recognize that feral and abandoned cats are undermining much of their work.”

Added to the problem of the eradication of feral cats is that of legislation on domestic cats. stuff affirms that the SPCA, a foundation for the protection of animals, is now campaigning for a national standardization of the rules governing their sterilization.