Cats "devour biodiversity"

Cats "devour biodiversity"

Cats in La Restinga. / ACBC

The Association for the Conservation of Canarian Biodiversity denounces the serious damage caused by felines to the endemic fauna of El Hierro

CANARY ISLANDS7 The Gran Canarian palms

The Association for the Conservation of Canarian Biodiversity has sounded the alarm about the
severe impact of cats on the natural heritage in the archipelago and, in particular, in
The iron.

In a press release, they point out that
felines are spread practically throughout the island, from coast to summitreaching in some places, in the case of La Dehesa or El Julan, very high densities.

The group of conservation experts attributes the
increased presence and spread of cats to several factors. “Until a few years ago, hunters contributed to the control of the feline, considered a competitor that affected their hunting interests. At present, several factors coincide that multiply the impact of cats. For one thing, far fewer small game licenses are issued; on the other hand, different diseases have reduced rabbit populations. As a result, felines, which hunt large numbers of rabbits when they are abundant, have broadened their predation spectrum, hunting more endemic invertebrates, birds and reptiles.

In fact, they point out that
the capture by felines of "jabubos (hoopoes), quails, turtledoves, curlews, gallinuelas, forest birds (finches, slings, etc.) and, above all, seabirds» and remind that «cats, including domestic cats, are very efficient predators, who hunt every day, even if they are well fed».

More intense is the damage that the cats are causing in the
sea ​​birds of El Hierro, according to the conservationist association that describes the impact on this fauna as «

We witness episodes of massacres of shearwaters in different places on the island (La Restinga, Tamaduste, Charco Manso, etc.), focusing especially on young birds that are about to take their first flight. On the other hand, the constant predation of cats and rats prevents small seabirds, such as bulwer petrels and little shearwaters, species with small populations, from thriving on the island, outside the rocks”, they stress.

In addition, they draw attention to the contradiction that these rocks and El Hierro are sanctuaries of biodiversity, with at least seven species breeding on the island, and that, on the other hand, this natural wealth is threatened by the presence of felines.

In this same situation is the giant lizard of El Hierro: «felines prevent the recovery of their populations in the natural environment and condition the management of this species in danger of extinction. In this sense, European and Spanish environmental regulations are clear in this regard and classify the
Feral cat as an invasive species that must be controlled».

For all these reasons, the Association for the Conservation of Canarian Biodiversity invites the authorities to
consider whether it is a good idea to create feline coloniessuch as those of El Tamaduste (Valverde), Las Playas (Valverde) and La Restinga (El Pinar), bearing in mind that El Hierro is an island with protected spaces and habitats that are home to important populations of seabirds.

The collective understands that «
installing feline colonies and promoting the presence of loose cats threatens the essence of these natural spacescontributing to the extinction of the local fauna» and recall that feline colonies are models promoted from urban environments, counterproductive in territories with such a splendid and vulnerable nature.

In addition, they ensure that
CER method (capture-sterilization-return) of the cats that form the colonies, provided for in the bill for the protection, rights and welfare of animals, it is "a long-term action, it represents a high economic effort for modest municipalities and, in reality,
perpetuates the number of catsbecause there will always be people prone to release them, escaped specimens and others incorporated from the natural environment».

The conservationist association recalls that El Hierro is a Biosphere Reserve and with about 60% of its surface area protected, so "everything possible should be done, also required by legislation, to care for this privileged nature, avoiding, at least , undertake actions that deteriorate the natural environment.

As a solution, the collective proposes to act with cats in the same way as with dogs, that is, «
capture and harbor cats in enclosures where they cannot leave, with all the copies controlled. These facilities would be supervised by personnel from specialized organizations assisted by the administration».

"If he
collection and adoption system of dogs worked and it is practically exceptional to see abandoned dogs, why don't we apply this system with cats? El Hierro, a benchmark for so many things, could also be a benchmark for the management of feral cats," they maintain.

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