Gareth Morgan, a New Zealand economist and environmentalist, campaigns to make New Zealand a cat-free country. He claims that cats have contributed to the elimination of nine native species of birds.
In an interview with the New York Times, Morgan maintains that "cats are a 'friendly neighborhood serial killer' of birds." Of course so are native hawks and other bird predators. It is not even certain that cats have contributed to the elimination of those species that are now extinct, because cats also help get rid of rodents that feed on their eggs. As for being serial killers, that is just rhetorical overkill. All those Kiwi automobile drivers are serial killers as well. I imagine bird road kill is as common in New Zealand as elsewhere.
Morgan has his own website. In an Atlantic interview by email, Morgan suggests four steps for ridding New Zealand of cats: 1. "All cats to be registered chipped and neutered — raising the barriers to cat ownership to those similarly already faced by dog owners. Chipping instead of collars is because cats more easily slip collars. [Ed: Chipping, or microchipping, means inserting an implant under the skin for identification.] 2. "Citizens to be encouraged to cage-trap cats wandering on their properties and turn them into the local authority. 3. "Cats surrendered to the local authority Pound, to be euthanized if unregistered, to return to registered owner who is fined. 4. "Councils to offer free disposal of cats. Vets are prohibitively expensive." After cats have been 'disposed of, “households would be encouraged not to obtain another pet thus ending the population of kiwi kitties as we know it."
The first step would involve considerable expense for cat-owners I should think. It would probably result in even more unregistered cats, especially since some might not want their cats neutered. Steps two and three actually happen in many places I expect. Even around here in rural Manitoba this is the case. Anyone can claim cats captured, because in this area, cats are not usually registered, though a few may have microchips. There would be certain fees charged. Rather than being euthanized, I would rather see the cats put up for adoption, at least for a certain length of time. Maybe they should be released at local dumps to help dispose of the huge amounts of food humans waste! The fourth step is to offer free disposal of cats. In Gareth propaganda-language this should read: "Councils will become serial murderers of innocent cats."
Gareth's campaign is not doing that well. Only 24 percent answering a survey on his own website have agreed not to replace their current cat. Gareth has a huge cat problem in New Zealand. According to the World Society for the Protection of Animals, New Zealand has the most cat owners in the entire world, and a feline population of 1.4 million in a total human population of 4.5 million. Almost half of New Zealand households, 48 percent, have cats.