Backlash Follows Audubon Editor’s Call to Poison Cats

Life With Cats is reader-supported. We may earn a small commission through products purchased using links on this page.

When someone identifies themselves as a conservationist these days, he is likely to hold strong views on the topic of feral cats and is also likely to want free roaming cats to be eradicated, or at least removed. In recent weeks, several opinion pieces by conservationists have been published citing the recent, controversial Smithsonian study that blames cats for a massive killing spree that threatens birds and other small native wildlife. Now, TNR advocates and other cat lovers are hitting back.

One recent anti-trap-neuter-return opinion piece is from Stanley A Temple, Beers-Bascom professor emeritus in conservation at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a senior fellow of the Aldo Leopold Foundation, whose  Less caterwauling, more realistic solutions necessary was published in the Orlando Sentinel on February 15.

This week, the Orlando Sentinal published another even more controversial opinion piece by Ted Williams, a columnist at Audubon Magazine, titled Trap, neuter, return programs make feral-cat problem worse. Sounding the usual refrain against TNR, Williams took things a bit further than in most pieces written for the general public, suggesting that Tylenol poisoning is a cheap, convenient way to get rid of unwanted feral cats. Williams calls TNR a ” dangerous, cruel, and illegal practice.” He points to feral cats as spreading rabies in Florida, where they are biting children.

If you read the opinion piece today, Williams says “There is an effective, humane alternative to the cat hell of TNR: trap and euthanize.” Had you read the piece yesterday, you’d have seen the original version, where Williams wrote “There are two effective, humane alternatives to the cat hell of TNR.  One is Tylenol (the human pain medication)—a completely selective feral-cat poison. But the TNR lobby has blocked its registration for this use. The other is trap and euthanize. TE is practiced by state and federal wildlife managers; but municipal TE needs to happen if the annihilation of native wildlife is to be significantly slowed.”

Vox Felina published a post yesterday, Audubon Editor Suggests Poisoning Feral Cats, alerting cat lovers and TNR advocates to Williams’ call to kill cats with poison and his suggestion on how that can be easily accomplished.

Today, Alley Cat Allies came out with their response to Williams’ opinion piece, in the news release that follows below:

Calls for Audubon’s Ted Williams’ dismissal following “blatantly irresponsible” comments

BETHESDA, MD— Alley Cat Allies, the only national advocacy organization dedicated to the protection and humane treatment of cats, today called for the immediate dismissal of Ted Williams, editor-at-large for Audubon magazine, in response to his op-ed in the March 14 Orlando Sentinel recommending that feral cats should be poisoned with Tylenol.

“Ted Williams’ Sentinel column is full of hate and devoid of facts, but far worse, it represents the latest in a string of outrageous attacks and encouragement of cruelty aimed at cats. Williams should be fired for these blatantly irresponsible comments,” said Becky Robinson, president and co-founder of Alley Cat Allies.

In the op-ed, Williams writes, “There are… effective, humane alternatives to the cat hell of TNR (Trap-Neuter-Return). One is Tylenol (the human pain medication)—a completely selective feral cat poison.”

“Killing a cat is a criminal offense in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Ted Williams used a major media platform to call for cats to be illegally and torturously killed. It cannot be excused,” Robinson said.

“Williams and others calling for the mass killing of cats have moved beyond distorting science and statistics. They are showing their true colors by publicly demanding taxpayers’ dollars be spent to continue ineffective lethal policies,” Robinson said.

She noted that in late February, American Bird Conservancy president George Fenwick wrote a column in the Baltimore Sun encouraging local governments to “act swiftly and decisively to gather the 30 million to 80 million unowned cats…[and] euthanize those cats that are not adoptable.” Feral cats, by definition, are unsocialized to humans and therefore unadoptable. Almost 100 percent of feral cats who enter our nation’s pound and shelter system are killed.

The extremist policy promoted by Williams and Fenwick would only result in the mass killing of tens of millions of cats every year.

“These reckless pronouncements, along with previous exceptional incidents—such as Smithsonian bird researcher Nico Dauphine, who was convicted of attempted cruelty to animals for trying to poison cats in her own neighborhood—should serve to reveal and discredit these extremists’ perverted agenda,” Robinson said.


0 thoughts on “Backlash Follows Audubon Editor’s Call to Poison Cats”

  1. My mother once said ” you can judge a man by how he treats animals- if he’s good to them he will be good to others.”
    I wonder how Ted Williams treats his family…

  2. Audubon needs to distance themselves from this extremist. He is always abrasive and obtuse when trying to get his points across anyway even before this, and it turns alot of “average joes” against us conservation minded folks. Now, with him advocating illegal practices, he should be premitted to have nothing further to do with audubon. Unforgivable.

Leave a Comment