feral cats and immigration (The Age)

To: Birding Aus <>
Subject: feral cats and immigration (The Age)
From: Laurie Knight <>
Date: Tue, 8 Jan 2013 18:05:03 +1000
The article in the age by Adrian Franklin is not untypical of the approach taken by some people in certain social science disciplines to issues grounded in natural science. Their view of society is a lens that they use to interpret phenomena.

In this case, opposition to non-native species is seen to be analogous to opposition to multiculturalism / immigration by different ethnic groups. As such feral animal control is equated to racism ...

A point that Franklin conveniently overlooks is that the people who are racists are quite likely to own non-native pets, and indeed to own pets that are likely to prey on native species. I suspect they are also more likely to abandon or otherwise manage their pets in ways that they contribute to feral populations ...

On 08/01/2013, at 3:28 PM, Andrew Thelander wrote:

The report Jeremy quoted from dates from 1996. It is referred to in Franklin's 2006 book along with similar comments from the likes of Tim Flannery. If there is a more up to date summary of the state of the science, it would be good to post it here for all to read.

Franklin is an anthropologist/sociologist and I don't believe his thesis is that you are a racist if you are worried about feral cats. On the last page of his book, he writes "the metaphor of nature has always been played dangerously in human politics, and never more so than when it is tied to vigorous forms of nationalism." I think he would say that what is at stake in this area is the potential mis- application of public funds on a grand scale trying to eradicate a creature that is here to stay without any reasonable certainty that its eradication/control will achieve the desired goal. I think it's a sensible point.

What we need to achieve first, however, is to get our politicians to the point where they are happy to spend any money at all on wildlife matters. Look how slow and skimpy they have been to fund efforts at saving the Tassie devil!! And some of us seem to think they'll pay the bill for a cat eradication campaign across the whole continent?? Time for a reality check, folks.

On 08/01/2013, at 3:55 PM, Jeremy O'Wheel wrote:

Yeah, he's definitely wide of the mark - his conclusion is because there isn't good evidence, therefore there isn't a problem, but the lack of good evidence is due to a lack of studies, not due to studies that exonerate cats. As the expression goes - absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. In this case we do know cats cause big problems in small and isolated environments, and among some specific prey. We just don't whether cats cause a general problem outside of those specific areas, or how big a
problem that is.

What's even worse about the article though is the absurd suggestion that people think cats have a negative impact on the environment because they're racists who dislike immigrants. That's crap, especially since there are so
many places around the world where cats been demonstrated to have
significant negative impacts on the environment. Everybody concerned about the environment should worry about the impact of cats, and it's clearly not
racist to do so.


On Tue, Jan 8, 2013 at 3:39 PM, pbrooks < >wrote:

That's a pretty old report you've dug up there, Jeremy. Regardless, I think you're letting this guy off lightly with 'fallacy of argument'. The words 'feral cat has been exonerated' are a fib to aid a weak premise at best and, at worst, a deliberate misrepresentation of scientific literature (from a professor, no less!). You want people to pass judgement based on the current state of scientific research; if so, you have to agree that
he's wide of the mark.


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