On the island of Bréhat, how to prevent cats from killing local biodiversity? – Island of Brehat

What is the worst predator on an island? The wild cat, without a doubt. In 500 years, the favorite animal of the French would have eradicated 63 species in the world, according to an Australian study. Its favorite target, birds, with 75 million annual victims estimated by the League for the Protection of Birds (LPO), in France. By spending nearly twelve hours a day in search of its prey, a stray cat would cause 1,000 victims per year (compared to 30 for a domestic tomcat who receives his food daily and with whom his master plays).

“A hypersensitive subject”

In Bréhat (22), as on other Breton islands before them, elected officials have decided to act to “preserve our small lizards, salamanders and garden birds”. “But it is a hypersensitive subject, immediately warns Gaby Cojean-Prigent, municipal councilor in charge of the file. There are those who love cats and those who hate them. As many people want to see stray cats disappear as others who don’t want anyone to touch them. »

How many wanderers does the island have? “Impossible to know before the census but, when you see the cat reproduction pyramid (in four years, a couple can generate more than 20,000 descendants), there is cause for concern,” says Gaby Cojean-Prigent.

On the island of flowers, the subject bristles the hair of some. “There are sometimes 15 or 20 cats around a house. This creates noise pollution. Not to mention the diseases they can transmit, ”explains the elected official, who is preparing for the voluntary arrival of Maxime Bredin, employee of Help (History, environment, coastal heritage) SARL. This Saturday, February 26, at 2:30 p.m., he will meet the inhabitants to explain the problem and the remedies. The man has experience. He has already passed through Molène, Ouessant and Sein (29), where large-scale identification and sterilization operations have been organized in recent years, with the support of the AIP (Ponant Islands Association).

A major cat identification and sterilization operation was carried out in Sein, Molène and Ouessant at the end of 2021.
A major cat identification and sterilization operation was carried out in Sein, Molène and Ouessant (29), at the end of 2021. (Document published by Les Îles du Ponant)

A “trombinocats”

“The idea is to take pictures of cats, day and night, and invite residents to recognize their animal on a trombinocats,” explains Gaby Cojean-Prigent. Second step, identification. “Mandatory since 2012, it is sometimes less obvious to implement on an island. We hope to bring a veterinarian on site to facilitate things. The sterilization of felines will also be at the heart of the battle. “As has been done on neighboring islands, financial aid will be offered. »

Ultimately, ownerless cats will be captured and offered for adoption as soon as possible. “It is necessary to protect our small animals, considers Gaby Cojean-Prigent. She explains why her team ruled out the alternative of free cats, which consists of sterilizing all stray cats: “The responsibility of the municipality is then engaged, if a cat causes an accident or damage. Above all, it would not solve the problem of damage to biodiversity. »

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