Dangerous Invasive Species being introduced in Los Angeles
PEST CONTROL- RATS
Wikipedia defines invasive species as a “plant or animal that is not native to a specific location (an Introduced species); and has a tendency to spread, which is believed to cause damage to the environment, human economy and/or human health”.
Well in LA, at police stations with rat control problems and other areas feral cats are being introduced into the ecosystem for rodent control problems.
Problem is that cats are not a part of our natural ecosystem and are opportunistic hunters. They are a non-native invasive predator. They not only kill rats and mice but also kill song birds, humming birds, lizards and many more species. You see they catch and kill whatever is easiest; they just don’t focus on controlling rodents. The best example of what happens when a non-native predator was introduced into an ecosystem to control rats was in Hawaii. It’s important to note that everything on islands like Hawaii is nonnative but some species are beneficial and desirable to those ecosystems.
Way back when Islands like Jamaica began to grow a cash crop called sugar cane that produces sugar for export to the world. That crop was also introduced to Hawaii at a later date. Problem was when growing the cane it forms a dense mating on the ground which is ideal for rats to hide in. The rats, introduced on the islands by explores, also would chew through the stocks of the plants to get to the sweet pulp of the plants killing the plants.
The economic damage to this huge cash crop, caused by the rats, got one man thinking about a way to take care of the rat problem. His name was W.B Espeut. He got the idea that introducing the Indian Mongoose, a prolific hunter, into the cane fields would be a great idea to solve this rat control problem. He went to India, got several breeding pair of mongoose, brought them back to Jamaica and releases them in the cane fields.
Remember the book you read in grade school called the Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling. The main character was an Indian Mongoose that saved the day buy killing a cobra. The mongoose was named Rikki-Tikke-Tavi.
20 years later he wrote a journal article that talked about what he felt was a great success of his mongoose experiment. He wrote that besides killing rats they “killed birds, snakes, lizards, crabs, frogs, grubs and caterpillars”.
The sugar cane plantations owners in Hawaii read the article and decided to introduce the mongoose in their fields to solve their rat problem. But little did they know what the true consequents of that decision would be. You see, Espeut left out all the negative aspects of using the mongoose for rat control. It turned out to be a disaster of epic proportions but he was selling his mongoose and making good money doing so, a little greed kick in I suppose.
You see rats are most active at night, mongooses hunt mainly during the daylight hours. Because the mongoose is an opportunistic hunter, their impact on the rat population was minimal. They found that the mongoose was eating “insects, spiders, snails, slugs, frogs, lizards, snakes, birds, eggs of birds and reptiles, all kinds of rodents, crabs, fish and fruits. They also found that they killed and ate other mammals many times their size and even the young of white-tailed deer”. So instead of ridding the island of rats, it was found that the mongoose would eat just about anything and was wiping out other species. The tropical bird population on the island was near extension after the mongoose was introduced. Besides that it was found that it carried several nasty diseases.
Introducing feral cats into a community for rat control seems to be a new trend that some people think is a better idea than rat baiting. Some cat lovers think that getting cats spade and neutered before their release takes care of the continuous breeding problem of feral cats. But just like Espuet, those people don’t want to look at the potential negatives of having feral cats around, example; spreading diseases.
Feral Cat Diseases (This info taken from Vetinfo)
“Feral and stray cats often travel in small colonies, which makes it much easier for them to contract and spread disease. Since most of the cats haven't been vaccinated, it is easy for them to contract diseases such as feline HIV, feline leukemia and even rabies.
While rabies poses the greatest danger to humans because it can cause cats to be aggressive and spread it to humans, there are many other disease that can also cause death and disease through cat colonies. Parvovirus is easily spread as are several respiratory infections that cause a variety of symptoms such as eye and nasal discharge, coughing, vomiting and diarrhea.
Cat colonies can also contract fleas and ticks, which lead to several diseases such as different types of worms, some of which can be spread to humans or other animals. If these cats visit your yard looking for food, they may leave these diseases behind in their feces.”
According to a CDC, “only 14% of the feral cats studied had any or some of the above issues”. They try and make it sound like it’s no big deal. But just do the math. If you have a colony of 10 feral cats which is average, 1.4 of those cats have the problems list above.
John Wayne has a quote that I feel fits this situation
“LIFE’S TOUGH” “IT’S EVEN TOUGHER IF YOU’RE STUPID”
If you’re going to use an invasive species for pest control make sure you look at the good, the bad and the ugly of the impact it has on the ecosystem it is being used in. There is not one university level expert that will tell you feral cats can control a rat problem. If you look at only the potential positives and blind yourself to potential negatives of their use it could make new problems that are worse than the original problem.