2012 Year In Review

Inspired by Nicholas Felton’s stunning Feltron Annual Reports, a brief overview of 2012…

Stray Cat Alliance’s I Spayed L.A. Program

Although I wasn’t planning to post anything until next week, I changed my mind after watching this video about Stray Cat Alliance’s I Spayed L.A. program. “A year-and-a-half ago, when we started this program, we believed that the community would embrace us,” observes founder and executive director, Christi Metropole, “but they have embraced this program more than we ever could dream possible.”

Indeed, they did. This year, the organization spayed and neutered more than 1,000 cats in South Central Los Angeles, and they’ve got plans to sterilize another 2,000 by summer.

For more information, check out the Stray Cat Alliance website.

(Video not working? Click here to watch it on YouTube.)

Open-Mic Night at NatGeo

The National Geographic Society is, according to its website, “one of the largest nonprofit scientific and educational institutions in the world.” I’m not going to dispute the relative size of the organization, but an article posted Tuesday on its News Watch blog raises doubts about their commitment to science and education.

The piece, which is billed as “an interview with Dr. Michael Hutchins,” is not much of an interview at all, but an easy platform for Hutchins, former executive director and CEO of The Wildlife Society, to vilify invasive species in general and—not surprisingly—free-roaming cats in particular. As I pointed out in my online comment (still awaiting moderation), one would expect some insightful follow-up questions on a topic that, as contributing editor Jordan Carlton Schaul acknowledges, “has generated contentious debate among a number of factions, including conservation scientists and activist communities.”

For starters: How would restrictions or outright bans on TNR, such as those proposed by Hutchins, benefit the wildlife he claims to want to protect? Read more

Warm Holiday Wishes

Vox Felina Logo—Holiday Version

It’s that time of year again—time to overdo it. Buy too much, eat too much, and drink too much. But there’s no such thing as too much gratitude. So, please, be generous to your favorite feral cat/TNR non-profit organizations.

And speaking of gratitude—I’d like to use this opportunity to express my sincere thanks for your continued support of Vox Felina, and for all that each of you is doing for your community’s stray, abandoned, and feral cats.

Happy holidays!

Opinions from the Front Lines, or Fog of War?

A recent study finds important differences between cat caretakers and bird conservationists when it comes to their attitudes and beliefs about the impacts of free-roaming cats and how to best manage them. In the end, however, the methods employed lead to far more questions than answers.

“Because western society’s orientations toward wildlife is becoming more moralistic and less utilitarian,” explain the authors of a study recently published online in PLoS ONE, “conservation biologists must develop innovative and collaborative ways to address the threats posed by feral cats rather than assuming wholesale removal of feral cats through euthanasia is a universally viable solution.” [1] Not surprisingly, the authors fail to acknowledge that “euthanasia” hasn’t proven to be a viable [see Note 1] solution anywhere but on small oceanic islands. Still, given the sort of recommendations typically generated by the conservation biology community on this subject, I suppose we have to recognize this as some kind of progress. Read more

The Outdoor Cat Conference: Wrap-Up

Putting on any conference is a tremendous undertaking. But the challenges involved in pulling together The Outdoor Cat: Science and Policy from a Global Perspective went far beyond the logistics of wrangling 20-some speakers and 150 or so attendees. For starters, there was deciding who should (and should not) be invited to present. (More on that shortly.) And then there’s the fact that, no matter what happens, you’re bound to be criticized.

There’s simply no way to get something like this completely right, no matter who’s in charge or how much planning goes into it.

And so, I give a lot of credit to the people involved—who knew all of this, and did it anyhow. Those I know of (and I’m sure to be leaving out many others, for which I apologize) include John Hadidian, Andrew Rowan, Nancy Peterson, Katie Lisnik, and Carol England from the Humane Society of the United States; and Aimee Gilbreath and Estelle Weber of FoundAnimals. Many of you told me, very modestly, that this conference was “a start.”

Fair enough, but it’s a very important one. Five or 10 years from now, we might look back and call it a milestone.

Here, then, are some snapshots of the various presentations (in the order in which the they were given). Read more

Back from the Outdoor Cat Conference

There was a great deal to think about on the long ride home from the Outdoor Cat conference earlier this week. I hope to post a brief overview of the event’s many excellent presentations in the next few days, but first need to offer an apology to Dr. Donald Burton, founder and executive director of the Ohio Wildlife Center.

In Tuesday’s Q&A session, I challenged some of the claims he’d made regarding rabies and toxoplasmosis during his presentation. And while I stand behind the facts I presented, I regret the tone I used—which was rather accusatory and preachy. Perhaps even condescending. I did not mean to suggest that Dr. Burton was deliberately trying to mislead the audience, only to point out that some of what he presented was, in fact, misleading.

I concluded my comments by suggesting that at a conference such as this, one expects better. I worry, in retrospect, that the same can be said of my contribution.