We Must Stand for Compassion in Conservation
The Hawaiian Humane Society believes that all animals, regardless of species, should be treated humanely since animals feel pain and suffering equally. We do not subscribe to a value system in which animals are classified as native, introduced, injurious or invasive – a hierarchy in which the protection of certain animals comes at the suffering of others.
Recently, the target has been on cats with the introduction of Senate Bill 2450 at the State Legislature by the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR). The intended purpose of this bill was to ban the feeding of cats, which DLNR defines as “predators.” The proposal, which was drafted in the name of conservation, would have condemned Free-Roaming cats to death by starvation and criminalized those who feed them. Thankfully, a large number of advocates, including cat colony caregivers and animal welfare organizations, testified against the bill and it failed to move forward.
Certainly, there are more humane and compassionate solutions: enforcing existing laws, teaching owners to keep their cats indoors, increasing education and reducing cat colonies by employing the strategy of trap, neuter, return and manage. These alternatives have proven to work elsewhere. For any method to be successful, cooperation between landowners, conservationists and responsible cat colony caregivers is essential.
This September, Hawaii is hosting the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). This will be the first time the convention is held in the U.S. The IUCN has listed “feral cats among the most harmful invasive species globally.” We will continue to raise awareness and insist that humane ethics become part of the conversation discussing ways to protect our environment. I hope you also will join me and speak up for all animals in response to policy proposals or headlines.
During my time as CEO of the Hawaiian Humane Society, I have seen many different animals targeted in the name of conservation, including cats, pigs, sheep and mongooses. If we are going to pick winners and losers among species, we must always be mindful of the ethical implications of those choices and of the methods we select to carry them out. “The question is not, ‘Can they reason?’ nor ‘Can they talk?’ but rather, ‘Can they suffer?’” (Jeremy Bentham, 1748-1832).
Our actions should always be guided by the goal of creating a more humane existence for all who share the planet. By working together, we can make Hawaii a better place for animals and people.
President & CEO
Hawaiian Humane Society