James Rus­sell

El­e­ment ed­i­tor

Element - - Contents -

With a bit of gut-grov­el­ling to get into po­si­tion, and some ex­plo­ration with the torch of the dark re­cesses of the an­cient puriri tree, I saw it. A black pe­trel chick, sit­ting alone in its nest. If it was a species of duck, it would be a sit­ting one. It is shock­ingly vul­ner­a­ble. There are two places on Great Bar­rier Is­land where this crit­i­cally en­dan­gered bird nests. Here, on the Ko­tuku Penin­sula, and also on the slopes of Hiriki­mata. The dif­fer­ence be­tween the two, how­ever, is that Ko­tuku is pro­tected by a pest­proof fence, whereas the birds on Hiriki­mata are be­ing munched by feral cats. Which brings us to Gareth Mor­gan’s cam­paign. Mor­gan may be rich. Hell, he may even be bored. But his cam­paign is rea­son­able and sen­si­ble. The most rea­son­able and sen­si­ble of the pro­pos­als is his call for the SPCA to cease neu­ter­ing and then re­leas­ing cats as op­posed to eu­thanis­ing them. The SPCA’s idea is that the ‘man­aged’ colony into which they are re­leased will even­tu­ally die out due to the steril­ity of the an­i­mals, but with up to 10,000 cats coming into the SPCA each year there is a healthy feeder sup­ply, and no amount of ed­u­cat­ing ir­re­spon­si­ble cat own­ers to neuter their an­i­mals is go­ing to ad­e­quately re­duce that num­ber. The hys­ter­i­cal re­ac­tion to this cam­paign is cloud­ing what should be a rea­soned dis­cus­sion about the best way to pre­serve our fauna.

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