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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Who Wants Feral Cats in the Hawaiian Islands and Why?

  • Author(s): Lohr, Cheryl A.
  • Lepczyk, Christopher A.
  • et al.

Feral cats are abundant in the Hawaiian Islands and pose a threat to native wildlife through predation and the spread of disease. A combination of factors including the submission of state bills and county resolutions has created the impression that a large segment of society supports the presence of feral cats in the islands and in-situ management techniques. The purpose of this research was to quantify the perceptions and desires of Hawai´i residents regarding the abundance and impact of feral cats. In 2011, I disseminated a social survey to approximately 5,000 Hawai´i residents including pre-identified wildlife stakeholders and a random sample of the general public. Data were analyzed using the potential for conflict index (PCI) and Wildlife Stakeholder Acceptance Capacity models. PCI results indicate that there is a high level of consensus within every stakeholder group that the abundance of feral cats should be decreased. Despite this result, 12% of respondents would like to see populations of feral cats persist in the islands. People’s desire to see the abundance of cats reduced was highly correlated (0.54) with whether or not people enjoyed seeing feral cats: 84% of survey respondents dislike seeing feral cats. We also asked survey recipients if feral cats should be removed permanently or relocated away from areas with threatened or endangered wildlife: the majority of people (78%) support the idea of permanently removing feral cats, whereas 10.1% would prefer to see feral cats relocated away from the specified area, and a small proportion of people (3%) believe that feral cats that are being fed do not kill other animals. This research reveals that a small segment of society supports the presence of feral cats, and that the majority of people would prefer to see feral cats removed from areas with threatened native fauna.

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