After two days of heated debate on the issue of cats and conservation, Economist Gareth Morgan, the man behind the highly publicised Cats to Go campaign, has explained his views in an opinion piece published by the New Zealand Herald.
An excerpt of Dr Morgan’s article (read in full here):
Gareth Morgan: Killing people’s pets? That’s not what I said
Critics should see it’s not about the cats – it’s about the birds, biodiversity, conservation and tourism.
People are working hard to manage and eradicate pests in many places around New Zealand, but this hard work is undone when those birds fly into our cities. After two days of frantic debate on cats in New Zealand it is worth paw-sing for a moment of reflection.
First up, the campaign has generated a certain amount of vitriol. This is to be expected – no one liked it when we first talked about reducing smoking or littering. But thanks to a misleading SPCA press release people got the idea that I wanted to “ban” or “wipe out” cats in New Zealand. To be clear, I have never and will never advocate killing people’s pets or placing outright bans. I have too much faith in the New Zealand public for that. I think that by informing people of the damage that cats can do, they will either choose to not replace their cat when it dies, or at least ensure they are responsible pet owners.
That aside, Cats to Go has been very successful in generating some excellent debate. In just two days we have had more than 40,000 people visit the site. Eight thousand voted on the Campbell Live poll, 40 per cent in favour of not replacing their cat when it dies in order to save our native wildlife.