Too much of a good thing?

However, not everyone is convinced that letting wildcats lead the life of a neighborhood is for the greater good.

When the alderman inquired about wildcats working for Chicago, Charles Williams, the city's streets and sanitation commissioner, said:"What you are talking about with wild cats, you put an animal in an environment to get rid of an animal. It can get rid of that other animal, but then you are stuck with that animal," he said. "In addition, wildcats can be somewhat aggressive, I would not want the city to be associated with putting on the street an aggressive animal that could hurt someone."

And those who engage the services of Cats at Work or Blue Collar Cats are "stuck" with them. One of the conditions of the care of the colony is that you keep the cats for the rest of their lives.

As for Houtz's claim that wild cats are effective, science is uncertain on this point. A 2009 study published in PLOS One revealed that Baltimore feral cats had minimal impact on the city's rat population and that they ate the same resources as the rats they should have hunted. One of the reasons? Rats can simply be too big for cats to hunt. But it is worth noting that the study focused on domestic cats in addition to wildcats, which could skew the results.

Yet, the study was used by Grant Sizemore, director of invasive species programs at the American Bird Conservancy in 2017. In the Washington Post, Sizemore argues that cats being opportunistic predators, they can hunt and exterminate more than some rats; they are also more than happy to hunt for birds that may require conservation protection. Sizemore also argues that cats pose risks to public health, including rabies and infection with the parasite Toxoplasma gondii.Like Houtz, who runs a wildcats program and wants him to work, Sizemore has every interest in protecting birds from a wildcat population that is difficult to regulate and control. Regardless of the prospects, the debate surrounding wildcats as backyard and business guard highlights how this particular problem can be complicated. A city is not a boat, after all. A vessel is a small controlled environment with limited resources and limited impacts. A city is a complex ecosystem with a number of different interests and links, all of which can touch each other.

It is important to weigh all these considerations before embarking on an action that significantly modifies this ecosystem.


No comments