Man wants to ban cats
Gareth Morgan wants New Zealand to be free of pet cats that threaten native birds. But the environmental advocate has triggered a claws-out backlash with his anti-feline campaign.
Morgan called on his countrymen Tuesday to make their current cat their last in order to save the nation's unique bird species. He set up a website, called Cats To Go, depicting a tiny kitten with red devil's horns.
He wants people to keep their cats indoors and not replace them when they die.
Morgan's campaign is not sitting well in a country that boasts one of the highest cat ownership rates in the world. A 2011 survey found that 48 percent of households in New Zealand owned at least one cat, a significantly higher rate than in other developed nations. The survey put the total cat population at 1.4 million.
"I say to Gareth Morgan, butt out of our lives," said Bob Kerridge, the president of the Royal New Zealand Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. "Don't deprive us of the beautiful companionship that a cat can provide individually and as a family."
For thousands of years, New Zealand's native birds had no predators and flourished. Some species, like the kiwi, became flightless. But the arrival of mankind and its introduction of predators like cats, dogs and rodents have wiped out some native bird species altogether and endangered many others.
"Imagine a New Zealand teeming with native wildlife, penguins on the beach, kiwis roaming about in your garden," Morgan writes on his website. "Imagine hearing birdsong in our cities."
Critical thinking challenge: Should New Zealand ban cats to protect birds?
Define these words: rodents, predators, deprive
- Posted on January 24, 2013