ABC News 20/20 Helps to Sentence Millions of Free Roaming Cats to Death
ABC News recently aired a segment on 20/20 called "Kritter Cam Killers" that portrays feral, or free roaming, cats as indiscriminate killing machines based on partial truths and outright misinformation. Citing results of "studies" and quoting members of the American Bird Conservancy and others, ABC News has helped to sentence millions of free roaming cats to death. The "facts" deduced from the so-called studies are based on what many researchers and statisticians would classify as junk science.
It is notable that Deborah Roberts did not bother to make any inquiry into the veracity of the information cited by people she interviewed, such as the number of birds that the American Bird Conservancy claims cats kill annually. Apparently the producer of the segment, Marc Dorian, did not do much probing either. A responsible journalist would have asked Mr. Fenwick of the American Bird Conservancy how he arrived at his conclusion that cats kill 1.2 billion birds a year and that they are responsible for the extinction of 33 species of birds. What is the basis for those figures? Who conducted the studies? What exactly did the studies entail? ABC News failed to mention any of the parameters of any studies from which those figures were derived. Did it not occur to ABC News to challenge any of those statements or even the statement by Mr. Fenwick that "they [cats] have no predators"? That statement alone should have been enough to question the legitimacy of any other claims made by him.
To say that free roaming cats have no predators is ludicrous. They are victim to any number of predators including coyotes and dogs among other animals, but the biggest threat to those cats is humans. There are colonies of free roaming cats throughout the United States, some of which are fed and cared for by humans. When those colonies are managed properly, by individuals or private groups, with comprehensive trap, neuter, and release (TNR) programs, their numbers diminish substantially in a very short time, and can even be eliminated. However, there are plenty of people who will use misinformation about the destructive nature of those cats to oppose TNR programs and as a justification to continue killing cats. Millions of cats are killed annually in the U.S., but the net result is that years of trapping and killing has done nothing to eliminate or even reduce the population of free roaming cats. What it has done is kill millions of cats at taxpayers' expense.
ABC News "reporting" on this issue was so one-sided that it neglected to even mention any other sources of the decline in bird populations, e.g., pesticides, urban sprawl, disease, hunting. More importantly, however, they did not interview anyone or present any information to counter the claims made by opponents of TNR. At least ABC News doesn't claim to be "Fair and Balanced".
For accurate information about predation by free roaming cats, visit these sites:
Please contact ABC News to demand that they air an additional segment to portray the whole story.