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Opinions from the Front Lines of Cat Colony Management Conflict

By M. Nils Peterson, Brett Hartis, Shari Rodriguez, Matthew Green, Christopher A. Lepczyk

Category Journal Articles
Abstract

Outdoor cats represent a global threat to terrestrial vertebrate conservation, but management has been rife with conflict due to differences in views of the problem and appropriate responses to it. To evaluate these differences we conducted a survey of opinions about outdoor cats and their management with two contrasting stakeholder groups, cat colony caretakers (CCCs) and bird conservation professionals (BCPs) across the United States. Group opinions were polarized, for both normative statements (CCCs supported treating feral cats as protected wildlife and using trap neuter and release [TNR] and BCPs supported treating feral cats as pests and using euthanasia) and empirical statements. Opinions also were related to gender, age, and education, with females and older respondents being less likely than their counterparts to support treating feral cats as pests, and females being less likely than males to support euthanasia. Most CCCs held false beliefs about the impacts of feral cats on wildlife and the impacts of TNR (e.g., 9% believed feral cats harmed bird populations, 70% believed TNR eliminates cat colonies, and 18% disagreed with the statement that feral cats filled the role of native predators). Only 6% of CCCs believed feral cats carried diseases. To the extent the beliefs held by CCCs are rooted in lack of knowledge and mistrust, rather than denial of directly observable phenomenon, the conservation community can manage these conflicts more productively by bringing CCCs into the process of defining data collection methods, defining study/management locations, and identifying common goals related to caring for animals.

Submitter

Marcy Wilhelm-South

Purdue University

Date 2012
Publication Title PLoS One
Volume 7
Issue 9
Pages 7
DOI https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0044616
URL https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0044616
Language English
Additional Language English
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Tags
  1. Animal welfare
  2. Biology
  3. Birds
  4. Cats
  5. Conservation
  6. Feral animals
  7. Islands
  8. open access
  9. peer-reviewed
  10. surveys
  11. veterinary care
  12. wildlife
Badges
  1. open access
  2. peer-reviewed