Save native species before it's too late

By Rob Butcher


Gareth Morgan opened a can of worms when he suggested we should have a reduction of cats.

He actually suggested that we phase them out as they naturally died and not replace them.

There was nothing inhumane or cruel in his suggestion that warranted the violent emotional response from cat lovers.

I took this photo (right) of a baby morepork chick that was killed and dragged to my back door. I assume it to be the work of one of the stray cats that invade my lifestyle block on the outskirts of Wanganui.

DoC announced last week that they are losing the fight to conserve kiwi and other native species from cats and dogs.

In 1984 I bought a backblocks farm that ran alongside the Wanganui National Park. I spent the next 16 years living and working in what was, at first, pristine unspoilt native bush and scrub where kiwi woke me every night with their incredibly loud calls all around my hut. Two robins entertained me when I passed through their territories, with their beautiful song and their cocky close inspections.

When I left the block, there was not one kiwi or robin (I found one of them with its head bitten off) left for several kilometres' radius. I am sure it was because I opened an access road to the area and hunters came in with dogs and cats (they dumped these covertly). It is clear our precious native critters cannot co-exist with our pet cats and dogs.

It is silly to get emotional and berate anyone who points out the truth. Can we keep our pets more secure using technology like electronic security bracelets? Or should we let these vulnerable species become extinct?

Whatever we do, we must not just drift until it is too late. Surely we must debate the issues.

Politicians will not get involved; the pet industry is million-mega-bucks territory for their corporate mates.

Sometimes it takes brave people like Gareth Morgan to get us back on the right path.

One comment I would add is that kiwi are tough and adaptable. Without dogs they would almost certainly invade our town reserves and gardens.

Could we live with their 80-decibel calls? I know I could, and I would love to be inspected once more by a robin.

Rob Butcher is a retired engineer and conservationist.

- WANGANUI CHRONICLE

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