(CNS) Feral cats are causing irreversible damage to critically endangered native animal populations in the three Cayman Islands. As a result, the Ministry of the Environment is stepping up its educational campaign on social media, advocating for human slaughter. Experts say cats can’t be allowed to continue roaming freely and the problem won’t go away unless something is done.
“It’s up to us to decide,” a DoE spokesperson said this week as the department explained in a series of messages on social media why feral cats cannot coexist in the fragile island ecosystem of the Cayman Islands without catastrophic damage.
DoE Land Resources Unit Director Fred Burton recently explained to the CNS the legal issues which prevented the ministry from carrying out a cull. While no one wants to kill animals, invasive species such as feral cats and green iguanas present a crisis for native and native birds and reptiles.
âEvery day lost due to delay is measurable in predation events where cats kill young rock iguanas, birds, curly-tailed lizards and even boobies,â he said.
Every year, stray cats kill many critically endangered native blue and rock iguanas, and even domestic cats pose a huge threat to precious native species.
According to the DoE, a wild cat hunting at night recently attacked a green parrot while he was resting in a tree. âA helpful human pulled them apart as they fell to the ground, but the parrot was already fatally injured and died shortly after,â the department said in a Facebook post.
In another, they said that an endangered species baby blue iguana was fatally attacked by a loose, well-fed domestic cat this month.
With the combination of wild and free-range domestic cat populations reaching in the thousands, most endangered baby blue and rocky iguanas in Caymans will not survive their first year.
The main problem with cats is their strong hunting instinct whether or not they are hungry, and they kill more prey than they can eat.
âThey have already forced many species to disappear around the world,â the DoE said. âWe must protect our precious endemic wildlife from the same fate. Cats are intelligent. Some people think that feeding feral cats will prevent them from hunting, but in reality human food gives them more energy to hunt. They are also carriers of several diseases that can easily be spread to pets and humans.
The DoE is continuing the battle to start a human slaughter because, as they have repeatedly explained, trapping and neutering is not an appropriate solution for feral cats in Cayman for a number of reasons, including because there are so many, especially on the sister islands. Even if they could catch, sterilize and release all cats, they would lead to extinction of many native specious before they went extinct.
Watch DoE video of baby blue iguana killed by well-fed domestic cat here.
Find more information and all DoE feral cat flyers in the SNC Library.
Go to DoE Facebook page.