Tag Archives: cats

Foot-long worms infecting cats in the United States

Foot-long worms are infecting cats in the United States

Free-range house cats a source of zoonotic disease, such as parasitic worms. Photo by Stephen M. Vantassel.

Free-range house cats a source of zoonotic disease, such as parasitic worms. Photo by Stephen M. Vantassel.

Readers know that free-range house cats not only kill millions of native wildlife each year in the U.S. but also pose serious disease issues to the environment and people. Typically, these disease threats focused on rabies and toxoplasmosis. Now it appears that worms are yet another issue. To learn more visit the research that was done at Cornell University Cornell University Original Study.

I can only imagine how the free-range cat lobby will respond to this latest evidence.

About the Author

Stephen M. Vantassel is a Certified Wildlife Control Operator (CWCP®) who helps individuals, businesses, and agencies resolve wildlife damage issues through training, writing, expert witness, and research. His latest books are the Wildlife Damage Inspection Handbook, 3rd edition and The Practical Guide to the Control of Feral Cats. He can be contacted at wildlifecontrolconsultant at gmail dot com.

If you would like your publication, video, or product reviewed, please contact the author at the e-mail above.

Copyright

All postings are the property of Stephen M. Vantassel and Wildlife Control Consultant, LLC. Text (not images) may be reprinted in non-profit publications provided that the author and website URL is included. If images wish to be used, explicit and written permission must be obtained from Wildlife Control Consultant, LLC.

From the Hate Mail Bag

From the Hate Mail Bag

As someone who believes in the consumptive use of wildlife, I am subject to some rather critical (to put it mildly) e-mails from those who disagree. You know, members of the animal rights protest industry activist movement. Part of the reason why I enjoy getting these letters is that it gives me some insight into how other people think. Unlike animal rights protest industry activists, I actually read material that I disagree with because I was taught that before I criticize I must understand. Regrettably, many of my critics don’t follow the same advice which makes reading their letters somewhat entertaining because they frequently accuse me of things I haven’t said nor believe.

A friend of mine recently sent me this link http://catdefender.blogspot.com/2011/07/evil-professors-have-transformed.html, where I along with a host of other people were vilified by someone with the moniker “Moonraker”. I admit I didn’t read it that closely. It is a rather long post. Nevertheless, I was amazed at the number of factual errors the document contained. I shouldn’t be surprised. Animal rights protest industry activists frequently get the facts wrong either by distorting the context containing the fact or by ignoring it all together.

What was amazing about this “Moonraker” was that it (I don’t know the individual’s gender so Moonraker will be called “It”) appeared to argue in an intellectual manner. It quoted all kinds of documents and listed names and used graphic language. The brunt of Its tirade focused on academics who oppose the presence of free-range cats on our landscapes. Free-range cats are effectively a protected predator but beyond that they are invasive in that they were introduced to the North American environment. So their predatory habits are devastating to our wildlife.

On its face, it sounds like a thoughtful (but angry) and researched person. But upon closer inspection, you find out this individual held several seriously mistaken ideas.

Permit me to list a few of the errors.

  • I was mentioned as the first author of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln publication on feral cats, but in fact I was the second author.
  • I was described as a pest controller for the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Not true. My job is educating the public in wildlife damage management. In other words, I was hired to transmit information, not control pests.
  • Moonraker argued that cats play with their prey because of their “poor eyesight”. That comment is just downright funny. Really? Cats have bad eyesight. Wow.
  • Moonraker excoriated the various research projects on cats, which is to be expected from an animal rights protest industry activist. However, Moonraker made no mention that Land-Grant Universities have to follow Institutional Animal Care and Use Guidelines. But then again why let facts interfere with a good hell-fire and brimstone sermon?

I’m sure I could go on. But these are enough and I have already given Moonraker way too much airtime.

About the Author

Stephen M. Vantassel is a certified wildlife control operator who helps individuals, businesses, and agencies resolve wildlife damage issues through training, writing, expert witness, and research. His latest books are the Wildlife Damage Inspection Handbook, 3rd edition and The Practical Guide to the Control of Feral Cats. He can be contacted at wildlifecontrolconsultant at gmail dot com.

If you would like your publication, video, or product reviewed, please contact the author at the e-mail above.

Copyright

All postings are the property of Stephen M. Vantassel and Wildlife Control Consultant, LLC. Text (not images) may be reprinted in non-profit publications provided that the author and website URL is included. If images wish to be used, explicit and written permission must be obtained from Wildlife Control Consultant, LLC.

Nature Wars by Jim Sterba: A Review

Sterba, Jim. 2012. Nature Wars: The Incredible Story of How Wildlife Comebacks Turned

Backyards in Battlegrounds. NY, NY: Crown Publishers.

Nature Wars by Jim Sterba. Photo by Stephen M. Vantassel

Nature Wars by Jim Sterba. Photo by Stephen M. Vantassel

Jim Sterba is a veteran reporter for America’s premiere financial newspaper, The Wall Street Journal. He has written numerous articles on wildlife issues and did so in a manner that was remarkably fair to supporters of the consumptive use of wildlife (i.e. fisherman, hunters, and trappers).

Nature Wars is essentially a sociological history of humanity’s relationship with nature in the area that became known as the United States. Part 1, Forest People, surveys the history of America’s forests and how its resources were exploited and used to build the country. But it is more than a narrative of abuse, it is also a story of renewal. Sterba explains how the forests that were originally cut down for firewood and for raising crops, ultimately grew back, thereby allowing wildlife to return in its wake. Sterba continues showing how after WWII, the housing shortage spawned a new phenomenon in America known as the “suburbs”. These suburbs caused and were related to a cultural change of mechanization, urbanization, and modernization that allowed people to become less connected to the earth and nature.

Part 2, Wild Beasts, takes up five species (beaver, white-tailed deer, Canada geese, wild turkey, and bears) that have thrived in the new landscape and eventually became a nuisance for those suburbanites. For each one, Sterba details how the return of these species spawned a debate between the protectionists and the managers.

Part 3, Denatured Life, is perhaps the most important part of the book. It is here that Sterba explains how American culture became disconnected with nature and its realities. He details how we have become schizophrenic in our attitude toward nature. On the one hand, we work to protect animals at great cost, but on the other do nothing to stop the rampant killing of animals on our highways and by our free-ranging cats. He illustrates the utter senselessness of our continued consumption of wood products (which may be harvested from overseas) while protesting the cutting of a managed forest nearby. He decries our illiteracy of nature and demonstrates how this ignorance harms the very nature we say we want to protect.

The book is well written. Sterba has a way of describing events that will make you smile but are short of ridicule. Trappers and sportsmen and women need to read this book to help them understand why their perspective is so out of sync with modern America. If we hope to change minds, we must first understand the mind of the urbanite.

While much can be praised in this text, Sterba should have included the role religion plays in the nature wars. The fact is that the decline of historic Christianity in the U.S. created an intellectual vacuum that had to be filled by an alternative ideology. His neglect of this fact was a significant oversight in his otherwise excellent book.

Nevertheless, the book is well worth reading. Sterba has included so many background stories (such as where kitty litter came from) and statistics of wildlife damage and activities, that the book could be seen as a miniature resource. Readers will not regret reading it.

Nature Wars is available through major book stores and online book retailers.

 

About the Author

Stephen M. Vantassel is a certified wildlife control operator who helps individuals, businesses, and agencies resolve wildlife damage issues through training, writing, expert witness, and research. His latest book is the Wildlife Damage Inspection Handbook, 3rd edition. He can be contacted at wildlifecontrolconsultant at gmail dot com.

If you would like your publication, video, or product reviewed, please contact the author at the e-mail above.

Copyright

All postings are the property of Stephen M. Vantassel and Wildlife Control Consultant, LLC. Text (not images) may be reprinted in non-profit publications provided that the author and website URL is included. If images wish to be used, explicit and written permission must be obtained from Wildlife Control Consultant, LLC.

Rabies

Rabies

Patient with rabies, 1959

Patient with rabies, 1959 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For years, rabies was considered incurable. Sure the disease could be prevented from occurring (via rabies shots) but once the disease manifested itself symptomatically, rabies was considered terminal.  But several years ago, a Wisconsin girl, who contracted rabies by picking up an infected bat, was successfully treated. An article in Scientific American http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=jeanna-giese-rabies-survivor reviews the case.

Not only did she survive the infection, but she has recovered to “normal” function. More recently, a California girl, also recovered (http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/PDF/wk/mm6104.pdf)

Rabies and You

I have two main points with this post. First, we continue to learn more about this ancient zoonotic disease. Second, don’t assume that becuase progress toward post exposure treatment has occurred that we can be less vigilant about protecting ourselves from this infection.

The fact is for 99.99% of the cases, rabies is terminal.  So employment of the following strategies will go a long way in protecting you and your family from this infection.

1. Vaccinate all pets. While many people do vaccinate their dogs, for some reason people are less responsible about their cats. A quick look at the Centers for Disease Control’s map comparing the rabies cases of dogs (yellow) and cats (red) in the U.S. (2009) is somewhat startling http://www.cdc.gov/rabies/resources/publications/2009-surveillance/cats-and-dogs.html but not unexpected. House cats are allowed to free-range more than dogs due to owner complaincency and the view that cats don’t pose a public health threat (an idea shown to be a myth by toxoplasmosis).

2. Avoid Wildlife. Most exposures to rabies are NOT initiated by the infected animal. It is the human that approaches the animal. So the idea that rabid animals are hunting people to infect is simply false. Many exposures are caused by people looking to “help” the animal.

3. Be Aware of Crypto Exposures. Crypto exposures are hidden or unknown expsosures. Bat bites are the most common form of crypto-exposures to rabies. Protect yourself and your family by being familiar with the protocols for handling bats found inside the “living space” of your home (living space is different than your attic and walls).

4. Get Treatment. If you think you were exposed to a bite or found a bat in your living space, contact medical authorities. Rabies is preventable when treated.

About the Author

Stephen M. Vantassel is a certified wildlife control professional. He specializes in wildlife damage management issues and is available for articles, interviews, research, and educational events. He may be contacted via e-mail  stephenvantassel(at)hotmail(dot)com

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Trapping Doesn’t Work to Control House Cats?

A homeless "feral" cat.

Free-ranging cats are an environmental menace to native species. Image via Wikipedia

Trapping Doesn’t Work to Control House Cats?

In an article entitled, “A Soft, Furry, Stone-cold Killer Researchers say domestic, feral cats kill as many as 1 billion birds a year” published in the Columbus Dispatch, June 12, 2011 03:13 AM By Spencer Hunt (Columbus, OH)    http://www.dispatch.com/live/content/science/stories/2011/06/12/a-soft-furry-stone-cold-killer.html?sid=101, a person was cited as saying that trapping doesn’t work to control cats because it is too hard to catch all of them.

An Evaluation of the Claim that Trapping Cats Doesn’t Work

A friend of mine asked a rather interesting question. If trapping should be dismissed as a control method for free-ranging house cats, then how can Trap, Neuter, and Release (TNR) Advocates claim that TNR works when you have to catch the cats first? If you can’t catch all the cats to remove them how can you catch all the cats to neuter them?

Could this interesting admission by a possible advocate of the TNR so-called solution to the feral cat problem be the reason why TNR doesn’t work to control free-ranging cat colonies?

Trapping Cats Does Work

The fact is trapping cats does work and it is far less expensive than TNR in both environmental devastation and actual cost. If you doubt this, just ask yourself, how can it be more expensive to trap a cat and then neuter it than to trap it and euthanize it? In addition, euthanized cats don’t spread diseases and don’t ravage native wildlife. If the Humane Society of the United States or any other group that opposes trapping on the basis that “it doesn’t work”, have them contact me. I can put them in touch with some trappers who are very effective at catching all kinds of animals. And I think if you ask them nice they might even be willing to share their tips to those lesser trappers.

Stephen M. Vantassel is a Certified Wildlife Control Professional and a dedicated naturalist who is saddened that so many people think that the environmental devastation wreaked by free-ranging cats should be tolerated.

 

 

 

 

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5 Tips for Effective Box or Cage Trapping

Leghold trap.
Image via Wikipedia

5 Tips for Effective Box or Cage Trapping

Many people, including some professional pest/wildlife controllers, think that live trapping wildlife is easy. Cage and box trapping (mistakenly referred to as live trapping when footholds and cable restraints are also live trapping) consists of using wire-based enclosures (cage traps) or solid wall enclosures (box traps) to capture wildlife. While it is true that the use of these devices is simpler than using footholds, the use of box/cage traps still requires attention to detail.

Here are five tips to make your use of cage/box traps more effective in resolving wildlife complaints for your clients.

Tip #1. Select the smallest size trap for the target animal.

Cage traps come in a variety of sizes and styles. It is best to choose the smallest size trap necessary for the animal you are planning to catch. For single door traps, choose 10x12x32; skunk 7x7x24 inches and squirrel 5x5x18 inches. These dimensions can be modified for different manufacturers but they provide a good guide. Small traps are less expensive and more of them will fit in your truck but the most important advantage is that they reduce non-target captures. Why set a skunk-sized trap when trapping for squirrels? Using a larger trap,  increases the risk of catching a skunk or opossum or something else that isn’t the target animal your client has hired you to control.

Tip #2. Use the right bait

Failure to use enough traps means that you are not taking advantage of the time-benefits provided by traps. Traps work even when you are not around. I recommend setting at least 3 per job, more if you can. This allows you 3 trap nights for every 24 hour period where placing only one trap gives you only 1 trap night per 24 hour period. Think of it as more hooks in the water.

Tip #4  Choose the right location(s)

As they say in real estate, property is all about location, location, location. The same concept applies to trapping. Don’t make the animal move to your trap, move the trap to the path of the animal. Never make the bait do what moving the trap will do for you. Now of course, there are situations where the best location isn’t prudent, perhaps because children, pets, or the nosy public will interfere with your work. In those situations, you should still look for where the animal is likely to travel and find a more secluded spot. If that isn’t possible, then use a trailing lure available at professional trapping suppliers.

Tip #5 Follow the right setting procedure

Avoid sloppy setting procedures. Even though cage/box traps are more forgiving than footholds, you still need to stabilize them to keep them from wobbling when the animal enters. Wobbly traps can spook animals and sometimes cause the trap to spring prematurely allowing the animal to back out.

In addition, you must ensure the cage/box trap is humanely set. Contrary to popular mythology, cage/box traps can be quite cruel. Trapped animals can bake in the summer sun, or freeze in a driving ice-storm. So think about where you put your traps. Will they be shielded from the sun/rain. Chances are no. But simply covering 50% of the trap’s length with a sturdy cloth cover provides the animal with shelter from wind, rain, and sun. It also protects the bait from prying claws, forcing the animal to enter through the entrance to get the bait.

There is much more to effective box/cage trapping but these 5 tips will help remove a number of key mistakes made by wildlife control professionals.

Stephen M. Vantassel, CWCP, ACP

Stephen provides consulting services to the public, wildlife control professionals, and others on issues related to wildlife damage management. He is available for conferences, workshops, and private training.

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