The spread of cats on the island threatens the local biodiversity. The municipality of Brittany is addressing this problem by establishing “thrombino huts”, inciting chipping, tattooing and neutering of pets, and sending unidentified cats to a local shelter.
Often, passing by the Anne-Laure Offret farm, tourists stop to take pictures of the many cats that gravitate around. A small farm of twelve dairy cows has been one of the breeding grounds for cats in Brea for three years. “And there will be others, there are plenty of Siamese”, Noel, the farmer’s mother, panics. There was an octogenarian native of the island. “I’ve never seen so many cats.”
For the first time, four wild-born cubs from a Siamese forgotten by vacationers arrived at the farm for the first time. Little by little, attracted by the bowls laid out for the first, others joined them, and the Ofres were stunned. Impossible for these feline friends “to starve them” Ann Laure said. They also cannot be caught to be sterilized or forced to swallow a pill: “We can’t get close to them” Noel says.
The farm is not the only cat place on the island. “I’m at home around ten,” also testifies Christian, a bike rental company near the pier. The problem, according to this sassy Breathen, comes from “Some secondary tenants who find kittens during their stay, who take them in to please the children, and who leave them when they leave, not vaccinated, not neutered. And swarms…”
Faced with the spread and complaints of citizens, the municipality wants to launch a program: first, it will be about creating “thrombinohuts” with photographs of everyone on the island, domestic or wild (hares or wanderers). ). Then financially encourage owners to spay their pet and have their pet chipped or tattooed, a commitment since 2012. And finally, send an unidentified person to the pound on the continent. Target : “Save our little lizards, salamanders and garden birds” explained MP Gabriel Kozhan-Prizhan Telegram, end of February.
Because these cats affect the biodiversity of the island. Admittedly, the situation is far from that experienced by some sub-Antarctic islands, such as Kerguelen, where human-introduced cats have wreaked havoc on seabird colonies. Or like in Australia, where stray cats have contributed to the extinction of several endemic mammal species.
“The islands have simpler ecosystems, extremely fragile. There are fewer predators here than on the mainland, so it is easier for seabird colonies to settle there. Every introduced predator, such as a wild cat, has a significant impact there.” explains Denis Bredin, director of the Association of the Ponant Islands (AIP), which runs cat control campaigns on several of its 15 member islands, including Brea. In Brittany, among the species affected by cat predation are “flying birds, sometimes rare, and micromammals such as mice or voles”, says Philippe Le Niliot, Deputy Director of the Iroise Marine Natural Park, which includes Seine, Molin and Ouessant. Thus, cats, along with rats, can “make certain species disappear on an island scale”, he adds.
The trigger was the example of Molin: about 800 pairs of storm petrels are concentrated on the archipelago, i.e., approximately 75% of the French population of these small deep-sea birds, “nocturnal, very agoraphobic, may nest in very few places”, explains Philippe Le Nilio. Between 2013 and 2015, cats have killed more than 300 petrels. Faced with this massacre, the first feline control program was launched in 2012 and again in 2016, resulting in 11 euthanasias. In early 2022, a new operation was launched, expanded to Seine and Ouessant.
If the first phase of identification and sterilization works well, the second phase of trapping is more delicate. “It’s a super sensitive item, recognized since Telegram selected brehatina Gabriel Kozhan-Prizhan. There are those who love cats and those who hate them. Just as many people want stray cats to disappear as others who don’t want to be touched.