I’m sorry for this photo. I really am. But this is from The New York Times which is cheerleading an Australian slaughter of up to 2,000,000 cats by peddling it as a scientifically-based public policy worth pursuing, dismissing the concerns of ethical people all over the world as misguided and “emotional.” They got it backwards.
The piece, replete with photos of cats being gutted, includes the following celebration of killing:
- “Long after midnight, as the truck turned back toward the farmhouses, and the men shot their fifth or sixth cat, Mark W. opened one up to find that it had been carrying five kittens that were close to term. Their skin was translucent and velvety, and when he took them out of the cat, they made their first noises. ‘Five little killers,’ he said.. he used a knife to cut their heads off.’”
- “[R]eleasing an arrow never felt so good,” one bowhunter wrote on Facebook next to a photo of a dead cat…”
- “They were the first feral cats he had ever killed, and when he took photos to commemorate the event, which he later posted on Instagram, he posed just as he did with his other hunting trophies: gripping his compound bow on one side, holding up the dead cats by their tails and grinning into the camera.”
As Dr. Marc Bekoff once noted, “in addition to it being morally repugnant, it is not based on science and it won’t work.” And he’s right. It is to propose a slaughter with no end.
Not only does removing one species to allegedly help another not work as a meta-analysis of every published study concluded, but those calling for the removal of cats because they claim they are “non-native” are guilty of the most pernicious hypocrisy.
They, too, are “non-native” to Australia. They belong to a species that is the most “invasive” the planet has ever experienced, causing virtually all of the environmental destruction, including the tragic decline of birds. And while they blame cats for harming animals, they kill or pay others to kill animals so they can eat them, supporting a viciously cruel industry that kills billions annually.
Yet for reasons based entirely on narrow self-interest, they do not hold their own actions to the same standards which they impose upon cats: they do not force themselves to live exclusively indoors, they do not pack up and move back to the continent where humans first evolved, and they do not stop killing and eating other creatures. Moreover, “non-native” and “invasive species” are terms that have entered the lexicon of popular culture and become pejorative, inspiring unwarranted fear, knee-jerk suspicion, and a lack of thoughtfulness and moral consideration. They are language of intolerance, based on an idea most of us have rejected in our treatment of our fellow human beings — that the value of a living being can be reduced merely to its place of ancestral origin.
Proponents of the cat slaughter try to legitimize the mass killing under the false mantel of “environmentalism.” There was a time when the environmental movement sought to protect animals and plants from chainsaws, traps, poisons, and guns. Fueled by biological xenohobia, it now uses those very things against animals and plants.
We need a kinder, more tolerant and saner vision of environmentalism. We also need one more firmly based on science. Each species on Earth, writes Professor Ken Thompson,
has a characteristic distribution on the Earth’s land surface… But in every case, that distribution is in practice a single frame from a very long movie. Run the clock back only 10,000 years, less than a blink of an eye in geological time, and nearly all of those distributions would be different, in many cases very different. Go back only 10 million years, still a tiny fraction of the history of life on Earth, and any comparison with present-day distributions becomes impossible, since most of the species themselves would no longer be the same.
This never-ending transformation — of landscape, of climate, of plants and animals — has occurred, and continues to occur, all over the world, resulting from a variety of factors: global weather patterns, plate tectonics, evolution, natural selection, migration, and even the devastating effects of impacting asteroids. Close your eyes and randomly stick a pin on any location in a map, then do a Google search of that region’s history and what you will invariably find is that at some point in time, that location looked very different than it does today, as did the plants and animals who resided there. Over 10,000 years ago, a sudden burst of monsoon rains over the vast Sahara desert transformed its dunes into a savannah which could sustain life, including people and giraffes who migrated into the area which today is once again a barren expanse of sand. Roughly 74 million years ago, Tyrannosaurs, Ceratopsians, and Sauropods roamed the continent of North America which was divided down its middle by a vast, ancient sea. In the distant past, the now frigid polar regions of the Earth were moist, temperate and blanketed by forests. The geographic and fossil records tell us that there is but one constant to life on Earth, and that is change. So under what pretense does an arbitrarily picked “single frame from a very long movie” chosen by people who refuse to practice what they preach trump the right of cats to live wherever they may be?
I’ve said it before, but it is worth repeating:
On a tiny planet surrounded by the infinite emptiness of space, in a universe in which life is so exceedingly rare as to render every blade of grass, every insect that crawls, and every animal that walks the Earth an exquisite, wondrous rarity, it is breathtakingly myopic, arrogant, and quite simply inaccurate to label any living thing found anywhere on the planet which gave it life as ‘alien’ or ‘non-native.’ There is simply no such thing as an ‘invasive’ species.
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