- Wayne Linklater

Dr Wayne Linklater is Professor and Chair of Department of Environmental Studies in the College of Social Science and Inter-disciplinary Studies at California State University in Sacramento. His research and teaching focus on human-dimensions ecology, wildlife biology, conservation and management, and considers the roles of science in society. He worked for 15 years in New Zealand and for 8 years in southern Africa before now.

Trap-neuter-release or Trap-kill-$5? - Politecol

Jan 30, 2013

To my horror, but thanks to Dr. Gareth Morgan’s recent announcement that he will donate $5 to Bob Kerridge’s SPCA for every cat they euthanize rather than release, I discovered that some factions of the SPCA are releasing cats into our cities, towns and countryside – lots of cats. Bob Kerridge – CEO SPCA – is considered a hero by a few for it. They call it trap-neuter-release – TNR But TNR is not a solution TNR programs do not stop the cat problem because cat numbers can only decline when a cat dies. But more cats are abandoned and migrate into the colony from other places to replace those that die [1]. Indeed, the presence of TNR in a neighbourhood is likely to encourage some domestic cat owners to release and … Read More

Cat-harsis – solutions aplenty and possible - Politecol

Jan 29, 2013

  Indoor cats and cat runs, like the one illustrated, are more common in other countries but also possible in New Zealand. Indoor cats live longer healthier lives and cannot kill native wildlfe. I began writing about solutions to the cat problem by suggesting conservationists appeal to cat owners’ self-interest and the health and well-being of cats so that increasingly cats are de-sexed and indoors, especially from before dusk to after dawn. Collars with owner contact tags not only help ensure the safety and well-being of your cat but if you add a bell or bib they substantially reduce the number of native animals your cat kills. Studies in New Zealand and around the world have found cat kill-rates are reduced by up to 51% if they wear bells or bibs. Solutions will be more widely adopted and permanent if they … Read More

Conservationists should care about cats - Politecol

Jan 28, 2013

– the least cost, least resistance, and most sustainable solution to the domestic cat problem. Debates that divide communities are especially emotional and irrational when one side attempts to impose a solution. Inevitably the imposition will result in an equal (or stronger) and opposite resistance from the other side. Positions become entrenched and solutions are not achieved – even when they are advantageous. The recent controversy about domestic cats and cat ownership is a debate like this. Reactions to solutions like cat registration and ownership controls lead to speculations about regulated euthanasia, and unhelpful headlines and quotes like “take people’s kittens away” and “Morgan calls for cats to be wiped out” – just silliness. Real and sustainable solutions to the domestic cat problem will only be found if conservationists transcend this debate and … Read More

When the cats away… … people do the killing - Politecol

Jan 27, 2013

– why getting rid of domestic cats will not result in more rats killing more wildlife. One of the leading cautions after Dr. Gareth Morgan’s call for controls on cat numbers and ownership was the concern that if cat numbers were reduced other predators of native wildlife, especially rats, would increase in number because cats also eat rats. Ecological science calls this phenomenon meso-predator release – ‘meso’ as in middle or intermediate predator. In the debate about domestic cat control the mesopredator is the rat and the top predator is the cat. Mesopredator release has been described in lots of wilderness ecosystems where removing the top predator resulted in an out-break of the mesopredator and an increase in predation of the prey [1]. The Mob? Cats might control rats not just by killing them … Read More

Do domestic cats exterminate native animal populations? - Politecol

Jan 24, 2013

Domestic cats kill native animals – fact. But… … just because our cats kill it does not necessarily mean that native animal populations cannot co-exist, or even thrive, where our feline companions live. Two considerations determine whether cat-kill exterminates native prey populations: 1. how many cats there are, and 2. how fast native animal populations in our backyards reproduce themselves or recolonize our backyard (immigration) when the previous native animal is killed. The more cats there are, the more native animals can be killed, and the more likely that cat-kill will exceed the capacity of native animal populations to replace themselves. But some native animals are faster reproducers than others – they raise larger numbers of offspring. Fantail may raise up to 5 clutches of 2 to 5 eggs each year but Kereru … Read More

Do domestic cats really kill native wildlife? - Politecol

Jan 23, 2013

The commentary of the last few days following Dr. Gareth Morgan’s media release has focussed too much on the messenger and how the message was delivered rather than understanding the problem and potential solutions. Some have described his views as extreme but whether or not they are extreme is less important than whether or not they are supported by evidence. Desicion-making in environmental policy should follow the evidence like it does in medicine, law and engineering. Let us move beyond the messenger and message and discuss evidence for a cat problem – is there a problem? – and the potential solutions that evidence informs – what solutions are best? Cat-astrophy measured Studies show that there is enormous variation between our domestic cats in their propensity to kill native wildlife. Some cats rarely kill while others kill frequently. Read More

Cat-astrophy in search of solutions - Politecol

Jan 22, 2013

Gareth Morgan’s call for the gradual reduction in cat numbers and ownership, especially from parts of New Zealand near places where our nation’s biodiversity live is a welcome ‘public face’ to a long-running discussion amongst ecological scientists and conservationists. Commentators and media, unfortunately, have made a hash of Dr. Morgan’s suggestion – reinterpretation towards misrepresentation. It is too easy to grab attention and sell advertising by claiming that Dr. Morgan is pitting conservationists against cat-lovers in ways that are unnecessary and inflammatory. Such mis-representation of his approach and argument is not the way forward on this issue. Dr. Morgan, however, can see the way. Dr. Morgan has not advocated “taking peoples kittens away”, euthanasia, or wholesale removal of all domestic cats in the short-term – even if that might be laudable long-term (think 100 years). Read More

A new 3 R’s for the environment - Politecol

Jan 15, 2013

The 3 Rs, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, have become a mantra – an axiom with extraordinary reach across communities, cultures and nations for the more efficient use of natural resources, primarily by reducing waste. It is a leading example of the power of slogan and motif – communications and marketing – to change environmental behaviour. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, also called the waste hierarchy, originated during World War II when shortages of raw materials motivated more conservative resource use, especially of metals, rubber, and wood as timber and paper. The concept developed after the war to sustain economies with on-going shortages. A failure in the supply of raw materials to any part of the manufacture chain, even temporarily, spelt doom for companies and the shocks would be felt through the economy. Thus, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle was a tool for economic stabilisation. Read More

Whipping the poor to garden – an ecological injustice - Politecol

Jan 06, 2013

Weekly newspaper columnists most often opine on people and society. Michael Laws, in his weekly Sunday Star Times column, has a particular trenchant for admonishing people with fewer resources than himself. This Sunday, Laws advocated gardening to the poor in “Want to eat well? Simply grow your own food” (Sunday Star Times January 6th). Seldom do weekly columnists tread into ecological territory and, being an amateur but enthusiastic gardener myself, I read with interest. It is not the first time the poor have been chastised for not gardening. Every so often a politician or self-righteous ‘green-thumb’ will also imbibe in this ecological solution to being impoverished. But is the criticism for not gardening fair, and is gardening a viable solution to being poor? Gardening is an ecological problem made more challenging by its interaction with human behaviour and economics. Mr … Read More

Reflecting on wildlife rehabilitation II - Politecol

Dec 20, 2012

– did Happy-feet’s visit increase support for conservation? You are sick, tired, and thousands of miles from home. Swimming, you pull up yourself up on a beach for a rest. Within hours you are surrounding by hairless primates who stare and take photographs. Within days you become their poster-child for the conservation of your species, the southern Ocean and Antarctica. Shake your tail feather – apparently the planet’s future rides on your performance. The emperor penguin ‘Happy-feet’ on Peka Peka beach, June 2011. Source: Ross Giblin, The Dominion Post. The most compelling argument for Happy-feet’s rehab was his potential as a conservation ambassador for the biodiversity and environment of the southern oceans (cf. reasons of animal welfare or survival of his species). Some expected the … Read More