Hawaii’s stray cats pose main menace to protected species: Why guests ought to be cautious


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Loads of cats could look cute and cuddly, however the strays in Hawaii are doing extra injury there than many individuals understand, in response to consultants. 

And for all these planning a go to to The Aloha State this yr — whether or not within the week forward (Nationwide Journey and Tourism Week is Might 1-7, 2022) or later in 2022 — this info is helpful. 

Nearly all of wild and feral cats all through the Hawaiian Islands are inclined to hunt sure protected species of wildlife; plus, they unfold illness. 

HAWAII’S THREATENED SPECIES: WHAT TO KNOW ABOUT PROTECTED WILDLIFE ON THE ISLANDS

Specialists at Hawaii’s Division of Land and Pure Assets (DLNR) are cautioning guests in opposition to interacting with the cats. The aquatic division’s Ryan Jenkinson, PhD, shared in an interview with Fox Information Digital precisely how the cats are harming Hawaiian wildlife.

“They’re extremely damaging animals to the native species in Hawaii,” he mentioned. 

Since Hawaii’s species developed with out the specter of predators, a number of the animals — Hawaiian monk seals included — will not be geared up with protection mechanisms to beat back predatory cats.

Cats don’t hunt or harass monk seals, however they’re nonetheless a main suspect in seal mortality, because of toxoplasmosis. This illness is transmitted via oocytes present in feline feces, which wash down into the streams and ultimately the ocean, Jenkinson famous. 

“Cats are superb predators of wildlife,” mentioned Josh Atwood of the forestry division. 

“The parasite, for some motive, actually reacts strongly with marine mammals,” he mentioned. “It has a disproportionate impact on monk seals … The worst half about it’s, it appears to focus on females, particularly pregnant females.”

A cat relaxes on a storefront windowsill in Hanapepe on the island of Kauai, Hawaii, on Dec. 14, 2012. (Photograph by Wolfgang Kaehler/LightRocket by way of Getty Photos)

People also can contract toxoplasmosis via elevated publicity to cats, which the skilled mentioned has a “reliable” impression on mind operate.

HAWAII’S HIDDEN TREASURES INCLUDE THESE HISTORIC WAR MONUMENTS IN OAHU

Jenkinson additionally talked about the “virtually unbelievable” variety of native birds that cats kill per yr.

In the meantime, DLNR forestry division’s Josh Atwood confirmed that some seabirds that nest on the bottom are being attacked.

“Cats are superb predators of wildlife,” he mentioned. “Even ‘fed’ cats have an intuition to hunt wild animals.”

The division has captured footage of cats slinking into chook burrows to hunt.

The skilled added that toxoplasmosis — dangerous to marine mammals — can infect birds as properly.

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It could be tough to disregard massive teams of adorable-looking cats when visiting Hawaii, however the two consultants agreed that feeding and nurturing the cats will solely worsen the problem and additional the unfold of illness.

“It’s so arduous since you don’t understand that by giving them meals, letting them proceed to breed — they’re having this large impression on our native species right here,” Jenkinson mentioned. 

“It’s a actually arduous topic as a result of individuals actually love their cats.”

“Cats in sanctuaries … go go to them, pet them,” Atwood mentioned. 

“Only a suggestion for individuals visiting: Don’t feed the cats,” he added. “If you wish to take them residence with you — superior.” 

For guests who want to be affectionate in a “protected area” with Hawaii’s cats, Lanai Cat Sanctuary permits vacationers to work together with cats in a protected enclosure.

The non-public, non-profit group, advisable by Atwood, is positioned on the island of Lanai and makes an effort to separate the cats from the outside areas inhabited by native species.

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“Cats in sanctuaries … go go to them, pet them,” Atwood mentioned. 

“However in any other case, please don’t feed cats.”

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