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'Natural born killer': Campaign demands eradication of cats from New Zealand

Reuters file

New Zealand businessman Gareth Morgan claims cats have contributed to the extinction of nine native bird species and were affecting 33 endangered bird species.

The domestic cat should be eradicated from New Zealand because it is a “natural born killer” that is wiping out native wildlife, according to a prominent economist in the South Pacific country.

Gareth Morgan, whose blog also describes him as a businessman, philanthropist and “motorcycle adventurer," has set up the “Cats to Go” campaign, urging people to “make this cat your last.”

On a website set up to promote the campaign, Morgan said that cats were killing native birds “faster than they can possibly breed” in New Zealand’s cities.

He claimed cats had contributed to the extinction of nine native bird species and were affecting 33 endangered bird species.

“If we are serious about conservation, protecting and enhancing New Zealand’s native fauna, even supporting a predator free New Zealand, then we must overcome our denial and acknowledge that we are harboring a natural born killer,” Morgan wrote.

He said that cat owners should put a bell on their pet, saying “they may be less than 50 percent effective but every bit counts,” have their cats neutered, keep them inside and not replace them when they die.

'Just love killing things'
Morgan is also calling for new laws requiring cats to be registered and micro-chipped.

In an interview with New Zealand’s 3 News, Morgan said that cats “just love killing things – and that’s your cat we’re talking about.”

“Your cat does a lot of damage. If you want to love your cat, that’s fine, keep him in your house,” Morgan told the station.

“If you let him onto my property, I want the right to trap that cat and get rid of it,” the businessman added, saying he would rather have native birds and other animals on his land instead.

Bob Kerridge, chief executive of the country’s Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, told the New Zealand Herald newspaper that the idea of getting rid of cats was “a bit radical, over the top and completely wrong.”

"People consider cats to be a member of the family. So he's trying to, quite frankly, take away the civil liberties we all have to choose who we want in our home,” he told the paper, and questioned some of Morgan’s claims about cats’ effects on wildlife.

"Gareth Morgan is way out of line because very few native birds fall at the hand of cats, domestic cats,” he added.

A poll on Morgan's website suggested most people were unlikely to join Morgan's campaign. Asked "Will you make your current cat the last one you own?," 72 percent of respondents said no.