Tag Archives: feral cats

Wild Chickens, Feral Cats Join Forces On Blacktip Island

chickens and cats 2

A wild chicken stands lookout near the Blacktip Island dump Thursday, watching volunteers set a trap for feral cats. Island officials worry the chickens and cats are colluding to take over the small Caribbean island. (photo courtesy of DIAC Images)

Wild chicken and feral cat population increases on northern Blacktip Island, coupled with possible coordination between the species, have many locals concerned about public safety Thursday.

“There’s always been chickens around the airfield, and mangy cats around the dump,” resort owner Elena Havens said. “But nowhere near this many. And they always avoided each other.

“Now, though, we’re eat-up with chickens from the Tale Spinner bar all the way south to, Sandy Bottoms’,” Havens said. “It happened overnight. And now you always see chickens hanging out with cats. Staring you down. Stalking you. It’s not natural.”

The burgeoning populations have negatively impacted local businesses.

“Damn roosters are crowing all night. Guests can’t sleep,” Sandy Bottoms Beach Resort owner Sandy Bottoms said. “We got chickens running across the bar. Eating all the popcorn. Pooping on the pool deck. Bookings are down and complaints are up.

“And this is migratory bird season, you know,” Bottoms said. “Bird watchers from all over come here to see the exotic birds. The cats have eaten them all, though. The birds, not the birders. No birds to see now but chickens. My resort’s half-empty.”

Island officials say increased animal numbers poses a health risk.

“We know feral chickens and cats carry transmittable diseases,” public health chief Herring Frye said. “But every time we try to catch a cat to study, the chickens swarm all over us, and vice versa. It’s like a bad horror movie.

“These two species are normally enemies,” Frye said. “If they’re in cahoots, the worry is they’ll take over the entire island, potentially make it uninhabitable for humans.”

Locals echoed that sentiment.

“We’ve tried to cull their numbers, but the critters seem to know when we’re coming. And what kinds of traps we set,” Rocky Shore said. “Either they’re all smarter than us, or they’re working together.”

“When we were setting cat traps at the dump, you should’ve heard all the clucking and crowing,” Molly Miller said. “Then the hens charged us. There were feathers flying everywhere. I didn’t know there were that many chickens on the island.

“There’s been some ugly incidents with tourists, too,” Miller said. “A bunch of them got their heads pecked outside the store. And a bunch of cats blocked the airstrip yesterday. The plane couldn’t land, but it was fun watching people trying to herd them off the tarmac.”

Some locals spun the situation as positive.

“All I know is the rat population is way down,” said Lee Helm said. “I reckon that’s the chickens’ motivation: with the rats in decline, they get a bigger share of food at the dump. And in peoples’ kitchens.”

Others are fighting back.

“We got coq au vin on the nightly dinner menu now,” Sandy Bottoms said. “And folks with lionfish spears chasing down roosters morning, noon and night.”

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Blacktip Island Wranglers Prep For Feral Cat Roundup

Blacktip Island officials are concerned a rise in feral cat numbers on the Caribbean island will devastate native wildlife and cause a health crisis. (photo courtesy Brisbane City Council)

Blacktip Island officials are concerned a rise in feral cat numbers on the Caribbean island will devastate native wildlife and cause a health crisis. (photo courtesy Brisbane City Council)

A spike in Blacktip Island’s feral cat population has prompted the Blacktip Theosophy Society’s Feral Cat Roundup this weekend to capture and neuter as many of the Caribbean island’s wild cats as possible.

“It’s an ad hoc sort of thing, dependent on cat population estimates,” said event organizer and society president Clete Horn. “They kill our native wildlife, and with so many cats, it’s a ticking time bomb public health-wise.

“The potential for hazardous people-feline interaction is off the charts,” Horn said. “There’s already been a couple cases of cat-scratch fever, and at least one divemaster’s been diagnosed with worms. Plus, the damn things keep peeing on my back porch.”

The two-day roundup requires all roped cats be neutered and released.

“A while back we people loose with .22 rifles and let ‘em pop as many cats as they could,” Horn said. “A month later we were eat up with rats.

“The roundup’s a way to balance out the cat and rat populations,” Horn said. “It’s an algorithm we’ve worked out based on how the Balinese rotate their rice crops to keep their rat population in check. It’s counterintuitive, but it works.”

“It’s like herding kittens, except they’re bigger and faster,” Theosophy Society wrangler Marina DeLow said. “And mean.”

“Beaters go through the brush whacking sticks to chase the cats into the corrals,” DeLow said. “We use fishing line for lassoes, and reinforced landing nets for the wily ones.”

Some island residents oppose the roundup.

“These cats are part of the ecosystem and have as much right to be here as anyone else,” local Protesting Inhumane Treatment of Animals president Harry Pickett said. “They need to be embraced, not roped and hog tied and snipped.”

Most islanders, though, are looking forward to the event.

“It’s adventure, it’s excitement and it rids us of pests,” resident Ginger Bass said. “If that’s not good, family entertainment, I don’t know what is. And the kids get to practice their lariat skills with some of the smaller cats.”

The weekend will also feature a greased-kitten chase for children as well as food stalls and craft booths with roundup-related products such as lassoes, heavy-duty gloves and landing nets. Prizes will be awarded for biggest cat captured and for the most cats captured.

The roundup concludes with Sunday afternoon’s Miss Kitty contest.

The island’s public health department is advising all participants and spectators to update their rabies vaccinations.

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