Invasive species: The Rest of the Story

| 20/01/2023 | 84 Comments

A Cayman Bracker writes: Of late, cats have become the convenient fall guys for the dangerous decline in the booby bird population on Cayman Brac. But we of the island who possess knowledge of the history of the island know better. The most significant threat to the birds’ survival comes from the activities of another and potentially far more dangerous and destructive species. Please allow me to present ‘The Rest of the Story’:

As the once unspoilt island of Cayman Brac started being “discovered” by those from the outside, development came to the islands. As more people form afar bought land for their dream hideaway, development in once pristine shore-ward and Bluff areas increased. With that development, major encroachments into the lowland booby nesting areas along the natural rocky shores of the island began.

My grandparents and parents and other extended family members and older member of the Brac community told stories relating that the shore-ward areas of the entire island were booby nesting grounds. So much so that during nesting season, a fairly short walk along the “bay” would yield enough eggs for the family for those inclined to eat booby eggs.

To see the booby bird nesting areas on the south shore of the island back before the South Side Road was completed, I had to trek southward on one of the several quite rugged traditional paths across the Bluff. Once the South Side Road was finished along the entire south shore of the island, the south shore was open for development. It became a rare sight to see booby birds nesting along the rocky shore in the developed south side areas.

I recall feeling much dismay at witnessing occasions where prolific booby nesting sites were wiped bare by heavy equipment to make way for a vacation home. I have never seen a booby bird nest on a totally cleared piece of waterfront land. Of late, Bluff edge development has become more popular, further depriving the booby birds of their last remaining safe spaces.

In the text of the DoE’s “Seabird Conservation Plan” (SCP), drafted under mandate from the National Conservation Law, the loss of booby nesting habitat is noted: “Habitat loss and human disturbance arising from coastal development pose a serious threat for many of these species, particularly for Brown Boobies nesting on the shorelines and cliff edges of Cayman Brac.”

The recent increase in residential development of Bluff edge land and the significant spike in purchases of Bluff edge property will certainly have a major and dire impact on booby nesting sites.

Coupled with the loss of habitat caused by development came the threat by local and imported pets, including cats and dogs. No doubt there was some predation by cats; however, while it was, and is, relatively rare to see a dog prey on booby birds, predation is not the only threat. I have seen dogs that are allowed to run free near shoreline booby nesting areas roaming around and harassing all species of shore birds.

Such canine roaming can discourage booby birds from nesting in an area and cause mother boobies to fear remaining on the nest because booby birds are quite skittish while nesting. The mere presence of a curious dog inspecting and sniffing around a booby nest can cause a booby bird to totally abandon her nest, leaving the eggs or young to perish.

While a feral cat might eat a plump chick and depart the area to nap after having a full belly, a dog can disturb countless nests in a very short time. A casual walk along the beach by unwitting humans can also cause distress to nesting boobies. The abandoned nest is then vulnerable to predators. As noted in the SCP: “Recreational activities… along stretches of nesting beaches and Bluff on Cayman Brac further cause disturbance to seabird colonies during their most vulnerable life-stage.”

While on the subject of careless destruction of species and their habitats, I and a few other Brackers have noted the wholesale destruction of many West Indian Cedar trees, bulldozed and carried away to the dump in conjunction with careless mechanised land clearing for development. These trees are deemed to be an endangered species, but neither the DoE nor the Sister Islands planning board and those responsible for enforcement seem to care.

Not too long ago, I witnessed and took a few pictures of the total flattening of the beach ridge and interior land not far from an undeveloped parcel I own. A portion of the land devastated by the unauthorised clearing was an area that I knew to have some of the endangered cedar trees, and the area was home to several rock iguanas, another supposedly “protected” species. Protected by whom, exactly? Officials on Cayman Brac are well aware of the unauthorised mechanised clearing and destruction but no one is held to account.

It is all too easy to place the blame of the booby decline mostly on cats; however, I do not buy into the idea that the most precipitous decline in the booby population has been caused by feral felines. History suggests another and very major underlying cause.

The SCP notes: “In the early 20th century and into the 1930s and ’40s, the Brown Booby nesting colony spanned most of the coast of Cayman Brac and numbers were in their thousands according to Brac residents Tenson Scott and Temple Tatum.” These men recalled the descriptions from their grandfather, Mr Ballinger Christian. My own family’s and older friend’s narratives concur with this observation.

The SCP goes on to say that by the time the Brown Booby population was first monitored in 1983, only 170 pairs were recorded in five subgroups of the coastline. In 2001, 61 pairs were recorded at four active sites, and in 2019, 46 pairs were recorded across three active sites. The most precipitous era of decline — and the retreat of boobies from the Brac coastline nesting areas — in the period from the 1940’s to the early eighties occurred during a time when the feral cat population was comparatively quite small.

I shall proffer that it was habitat loss caused by human endeavours and activities and development that most significantly contributed to the catastrophic booby population decline.

The incomprehensible irony of the government killing cats to protect the booby birds is that the CI government has been building roads specifically designed to encourage the development of Bluff edge land. Two of the latest such road plans underway are at the far eastern Bluff.

The roads are being built close to the Bluff edge, opening all of the fronting Bluff edge land to development in an area specifically identified by the DoE and SCP as being among the last remaining booby nesting habitats. The cat culling appears to me to be a high-profile show to make the government and the DoE look like they are taking major steps to tackle the cause of the booby population decline.

I leave you to ponder this: The most significant danger to the population of Brown Booby birds on Cayman Brac was, and still is, a very aggressive and invasive species: humans.


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Category: Land Habitat, Science & Nature, Viewpoint

Comments (84)

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  1. Jah Save Mi Islands says:

    The only invasive species in the Cayman Islands are ex-pats. After they arrived in great numbers, all local species, including Caymanians, have been traumatized and are declining. Truth!

  2. Anonymous says:

    As an interesting aside on the issue of culling, and hunting, and the ecological balance:
    Please allow me to present The Rest of the Story…

    [NOTE:I am on no way relating this to the issue of Boobies, cats, and cat killers. I am just presenting a side of The Balance that many never hear about or consider. I most likely shall present my thoughts relating to The Vacuum Effect in another comment.]

    Mother Earth occasionally incorporates disruptive and invasive things into her balance. In this instance, she did so with the most unlikely of invasive predators: hunters.

    (George Carlin did an amusing comedy dialogue describing Mother Earth shaking off humans and incorporating plastics into her balance. Here is an excerpt of that brilliant monologue:
    “The planet will be here for a long, long, LONG time after we’re gone, and it will heal itself, it will cleanse itself, ’cause that’s what it does. It’s a self-correcting system. The air and the water will recover, the earth will be renewed. And if it’s true that plastic is not degradable, well, the planet will simply incorporate plastic into a new paradigm: the earth plus plastic. The earth doesn’t share our prejudice toward plastic. Plastic came out of the earth. The earth probably sees plastic as just another one of its children. Could be the only reason the earth allowed us to be spawned from it in the first place. It wanted plastic for itself. Didn’t know how to make it. Needed us. Could be the answer to our age-old egocentric philosophical question, ‘Why are we here?’ Plastic, @##hole!” )

    But I digress…

    In deer ranging areas of the UK, deer hunting is a long-standing traditional sport. Due to demand for venison by individual and restaurants, deer hunting became a profitable commercial enterprise for many people. Over time a balance was struck that worked well for both predator and prey.

    Then came Covid. (Yup, yet another something to blame Covid for.)

    The Covid lock-downs saw dining out curtailed. Restaurant lock-downs caused a sudden and precipitous decline in the demand for deer meat. With hunters not out shooting deer, the deer population increased astoundingly quickly. After lock-downs ended, demand for venison did not rebound nearly as quickly as it fell. But the deer kept on multiplying.
    Officials in some areas are declaring the proliferation of deer a crisis. In some places deer have multiplied to the point that they are wreaking havoc on crops and woodlands.

    Mother Earth incorporated hunters into her ecosystem and through many years she struck a delicate balance between the invasive predators (the hunters) and the deer. With the predator no longer active, the balance was upset in a very major way.

    I share because I thought it was interesting how Mother Earth re-created The Balance to make predator humans a quite vital part of her system.

    Where do you see in the Viewpoint a suggestion to get rid of humans? Where do you see the suggestion that nothing be dome to protect endangered species? Or was that the voices in your head?
    You can see in the Viewpoint the suggestion that the problem stems from the lack of government control and poor government policy.

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    • Anonymous says:

      While I think your general theme is calling for a bit of measured conversation (fair enough), there are a few hic-ups:

      1) There are countless examples of where mother nature didn’t counter-balance. Hence things going extinct.

      2) Deer in the UK always had predators: If not early humans then wolves. Proper, ancient forests are a rare habitat in the UK. Much to do with deer over population. It’s been so long without wolves people don’t realise the difference 🙁

      I like George Carlin too, but don’t think he would have got high marks in a biology exam – lol!

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      • Anonymous says:

        @4:23:
        I was not calling for any conversation, measured or no, just relating an interesting story on how Mother Nature incorporated human predators into The Balance.
        But since you insist:
        Please allow me to relate The Rest of the Story…

        In regard to the “…countless examples of where mother nature didn’t counter-balance”: Upon critical reading you will note that I wrote “Mother Earth occasionally incorporates disruptive and invasive things into her balance” and I cited human predators as being the subject predator. Not just an ordinary predator, but a particularly “disruptive and invasive” one. One that can efficiently kill at a distance and does so just for the fun of it, as well as for profit. None of the other predators deer face have those characteristics.

        Of course deer had other predators; however the point here is that the disruption of the human predator caused a tipping of The Balance in an interesting direction.
        Another similar example is found in the swamps of the USA. Alligators were becoming endangered, allegedly due to hunting. So humans protected ‘gators. Fast forward a few decades and they grew to be a nuisance and were culled. In Florida from 1997-2021, over 184,000 “nuisance ‘gators” were killed (by special permit). Now Florida has removed it from the endangered list and is issuing hunting permits for general hunting during a short hunting season. Inactivation of the ‘gator’s human predator upset The Balance and The Balance had to be restored. (Besides other big ‘gators, an adult ‘gator has no natural predators.) Humans became its disruptive and invasive nemesis, then became part of The Balance.

        I am not so sure Carlin cared much about biology grades, although by most biographical evidence he did fairly well in school. He had sense enough to drop out of school after ninth grade to follow his dream. Good choice. He is consistently in the Top 10 Stand-Up Comedian GOAT lists; some listing him as #1. He ties for #1 with Robin Williams on my GOAT list. And he is spot on about the ignorant arrogance of those who go around crying “Save the Earth!”
        Save the Earth? From What? The Earth started as a hot lifeless rock. That was the Earth’s perfectly fine natural state at the time. A toxic rock orbiting around in space. The molten, lifeless rock eventually turned into a lovely blue ball teaming with life. Eventually Mother Earth spawned humans. They turned into a quite disruptive species and became the only species that developed multiple ways to render itself extinct. But Mother Earth survived much worse than mankind and will be around and doing just fine long after she bids Buh-Bye to the last human. It is humans who need saving…from themselves. On that point, biologists and Carlin totally agree.
        With that I bid you, Adieu.

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        • Anonymous says:

          Yeah… I think we’re agreeing but you’ve got a really weird way of getting your point across.

  3. Fiona says:

    Problem is with humans, the most destructive species ever on the planet, that unless you’re in America, you’re not allowed to shoot them. Feral cats can be legally dispatched, and a good thing too. Well done DoE being brave enough to tackle these cats.

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  4. Anonymous says:

    The boobies are a common bird with a worldwide range. I find it hard to be concerned about them. If there is cat culling why isn’t it where the rock iguanas live? I thought they were the endangered species.

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  5. Confused Puss says:

    I swear my cat has split personality. A nice cultured pet at home, but embarrassingly wild when he is let out. I love my cat dearly, and on a mission to remove the feral instinct out of him before he falls victim of the cullers.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Just don’t let him outside. Whether there is active culling in your area or not. Problem solved much easier than the impossible task of reformatting a million years of cat evolution.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Last time I checked development wasn’t killing baby birds on the Brac, and please, everyone, kill those cats. Btw they aren’t an invasive species, they are a domesticated species that the uneducated have allowed to roam free and multiply, kind of like the chickens.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Truth!

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    • Anonymous says:

      Kill those cats are you seeing yourself.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Exactly! Taking away the natural habitats of animals is never detrimental to their survival. We must build, build, build, so they can adapt or perish

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    • Anonymous says:

      Agreed

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    • Anonymous says:

      The last time I checked, man-development-greed were the cause of the demise of everything other than man. Not saying cats aren’t killing birds, but our relentless digging of holes and paving of fields so we can flex our pride is what’s bringing it all to a stinking finish.

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    • Anonymous says:

      @12:33:
      Written like another one who has no idea of the history and has not seen the destruction of booby habitat by people, nor has any idea of what constitutes an existential threat to the birds. I have witnessed first hand land that the a week or two before the clearing had nesting boobies. I do not know if the eggs had hatched or were laid. If eggs had hatched, chicks died.

      In regard to a threat, one does not have to kill booby chicks to wipe out the booby population. Destruction of habitat due to development has been a very effective means to reduce the booby population from countless thousands to fewer than two hundred mating pairs. Was not cats. Was development and human activity.

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      • Anonymous says:

        So why are the booby birds around the lighthouse, where there isn’t any development, also declining?

        • Anonymous says:

          @12:11:
          The Lighthouse and roads are in themselves disruptive development. The Lighthouse Park invites many visitors. The traditional Lighthouse walking path passes over areas that were said by some to once be prime nesting areas.
          Even though there is food-containing litter in an open bin and sometimes just dropped on the ground, I have never seen a feral cat there. If they were present in such numbers, there should be several hanging around rummaging through the bin and looking for a hand out. Perhaps I am just there are the wrong times.

          Ideally brown boobies like nesting areas that accommodate the booby’s preference to land and take off into the wind. It prefers flat to slightly sloped terrain with some rock or vegetation to provide cover. It will nest in flat cliff ledges. So any disturbance at or near to the top edge of the Bluff will affect the Boobies.

          I would like to see the results of a scientific study that resolves your question.

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    • Anonymous says:

      A bull dozer doesn’t have to drive over a baby bird to kill off the birds. Try reading the article. If you destroy their habitat and disturb their nesting, the baby birds are either not born at all or die in the nest without direct or intentional killing.

  7. Anonymous says:

    The Sister Islands Rock Iguana also kills birds. Contrary to what the DOE says, they are meat eaters. They will even eat pork chops.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Fact Check: Rock iguanas are 1) mainly herbivorous and not predatory in nature 2) they only eat other items given an opportunity and 3) they have lived with booby birds for millenia.

      Humans brought little furry predators that are obligate carnivores onto the Brac, and you’re saying the iguanas are problem?! Get real.

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    • Anonymous says:

      @1:50:
      You bring up a very good point. I was friends with a person who once had a vacation home here. He had a couple of rock iguanas that were semi-tame and he would feed them table scraps. When he barbecued, he would toss them pieces of burgers and links. I did not mention Rock Iguanas because I do not have first hand or verifiable evidence of Rock Iguanas feeding on Booby chicks. It is entirely plausible that they do as there are accounts by others that they will raid fowl nests and eat both eggs and chicks.

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  8. Anonymous says:

    Oh my goodness you all need to get over yourselves. There are 2 issues. Development and encroachment on natural habitat is one. The other is invasive cats! The author refuses to see that. For the record I am a huge cat lover. I have only ever had cats as pets, no dogs, birds, turtles, fish, hamsters etc etc. but the truth is the truth. There are far too many feral cats in Cayman Brac and they are hunting the indelicate species. Quite frankly the irony of the author’s piece is that Caymanians always complain about for foreigners coming in and ruining everything but the author fails to see that the cats are foreigners coming in to ruin the delicate ecological balance that is struggling to hold on in the Brac. I am sad that the cats need to go, but I recognize they do indeed need to go.

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    • Anonymous says:

      What about the humans, are they invasive?

      • Anonymous says:

        Very invasive… So let’s exterm..ate ourselves? The logic here is most enjoyable for a distraction from serious issues.

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        • Anonymous says:

          @9:53:
          You have entirely missed the underlying message.

          Please allow me to present The Rest of the Story…

          The message relating to the Booby Birds is not a distraction at all, it hits at the very core of the most serious issue facing humanity. Humans are the GOAT efficient destroyers of the environment, and that applies to their very own environment at that.

          We humans are the only species on Earth who have developed ways to exterminate ourselves. (Once we are successful in that, the threat to all other species is gone. But it ain’t so great for the Home Team.)

          The Dooms Day Clock is ticking…
          Which will it be:
          Global Warming/Climate Change?
          Nuclear Armageddon?
          A super-virus we crafted?
          Food chain breakdown due to ocean and inland water pollution?

          Then again, maybe, just maybe, Mother Nature has something else in store:
          Large meteor strike.
          Super volcano eruptions.
          Super-resistant natural variant resulting from the mutation of an existing virus.

          Oh, well.
          Today, Boobies, tomorrow…
          …humans.

          As long as we keep missing the point, the Dooms Day Clock keeps ticking…

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    • Anonymous says:

      @1:05:
      The point is that human activity and development, not cats, are the overwhelming cause of the decline in the vast decline in the booby population.

      Another point you missed is that dogs on the loose can do as much or more to contribute to the decline of boobies as compared to cats by merely disturbing nests rather than predation.

      In regard to the ecological balance: it is not in question that humans have done vastly more to disturb and destroy the ecological balance than cat ever could; however, the DOE turns a bling eye towards destruction of the foreshore and forest environment by indiscriminate and unauthorised mechanised clearing and removal of the natural beach ridge and island-wide destruction of the forest and woodlands environment. Save for the story of one hapless man who cleared land illegally, I have never heard of the DOE officer here investigating for sucessful prosecution of development-related violations and destruction of species globally and locally recognised as endangered species.

      The Brown Booby is not deemed to be an endangered or even threatened species. The DOE make a great show of being the great defenders of booby birds by killing cats, but have done pathetically little to address the root cause of the decline of Booby Birds and the destruction of the terrestrial environment.

      People have advised me and even shown me evidence that they have reported the obvious and active illegal land clearing and habitat desctrutoin, but in all the cases the DOE failed to hold people accountable. One person even showed me the screen shots of the DOE complaint page showing where they sent a quite detailed report of the illegal activity. They showed me the email they received from the DOE advising that the DOE would be getting back to them and informing them of the DOE’s progress in regard to the issue. That was months ago. No response yet. I have had the same experience to the point. I advised them to make their evidence public and get the media involved. I would advise all Brackers with the same experience to go public with it.

      The DOE are apparently quite efficient killers of cats, but not so much in regard to addressing the most compelling, obvious, egregious, and on-going destruction of the natural environment on Cayman Brac by humans. Except for turtles. Besides being efficient cat killers, the DOE comes to bat hard for turtles.

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  9. Anon says:

    Humans are the problem. The world would still exist without human beings and probably flourish. Humans domesticated cats and dogs and thus the reason that the cat and dog populations are out of control. If cats and dogs were never domesticated then there would have been a natural order of species that would have kept the populations into manageable numbers. It’s the same ideas when people blame cows for the methane gas released into the air as a cause of global warming. If we never domesticated and killed cows for dairy and meat, then the populations of cattle would be more manageable and there would be a manageable level of methane gas.
    Humans are to blame, but it is for doing everything for our own gain and pleasure. Now the feral cats pay the price, but they are destroying the brown booby populations and the cull is simply to try to keep the brown boobies under control.

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  10. Anonymous says:

    Say it straight! Jamaicans buying up cheap land in Brac, just to get points for their PR! But who is selling the land?

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  11. Gotit says:

    So the real culprits, according to this writer, iare each and every Bracker who cashed in easily when selling land for development.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Not unless they brought in more cats!

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    • Anonymous says:

      @1:48:
      Silly comment.
      When people sell land they often have no idea what the buyer will do with it. In many cases the land is a larger tract and is subdivided and sold to others that the original owner is totally unaware of. The failure of the DOE and DCB and the Brac Planning officer to do their job after the land is sold is the final failure in the chain.

  12. Anonymous says:

    And yet still no on island vet

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    • Mumbichi says:

      They usually come once a month, and Humane Society still sponsors neutering of ferals.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Sounds like a great career opportunity for a young Caymanian with interest in the sciences and a compassionate heart for pets/animals.

    • Anonymous says:

      Unless I am mistaken about what I was told, a pseron quite close to the applicant involved advised me that the government finally granted the application for the Brac resident to practice as a vet on Cayman Brac. Can someone here update us?

  13. Anonymous says:

    Thank you to the author for taking the time to share your first-hand knowledge of Cayman Brac’s history and challenges. The lack of land protections and local say in land use decisions is a big issue. We watched as a road was built over known booby nests just this year for public beach access, likely by people who were unaware of the importance of the area.

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  14. Anonymous says:

    No, it’s the cats. Sorry, they gotta go. Feel free to keep them in your house if you want them.

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    • Anonymous says:

      If the cats are all cull and the booby continue to die, it will prove the writers point. There is no doubting that most of the destruction across the islands is due to greed and is man made.

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      • Anonymous says:

        I walk the beaches. I have seen the death and damage of boobys by cats. Outside cats are killers. We have a cat in our home, but it does NOT go outside the house.

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        • Anonymous says:

          If you walk the beaches, are you careful to avoid the Booby nesting areas? Do you know where the most frequented nesting areas are are and what to look for?

          Perhaps not so careful, as you seem to have witnessed things that can be seen first hand by getting close to those areas. Just sayin’.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Okay

    • Anonymous says:

      What about you, you should give up your spot human.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Ok, so you propose getting rid of the humans on the Brac or doing nothing to try to protect the endangered species on the island. A real Brac solution.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Where do you see in the Viewpoint a suggestion to get rid of humans? Where do you see the suggestion that nothing be dome to protect endangered species? Or was that the voices in your head?
      You can see in the Viewpoint the suggestion that the problem stems from the lack of government control and poor government policy.

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  16. Joanne says:

    Well said

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  17. Anonymous says:

    So you are sad for development depriving you of future opportunities to deplete the nests of eggs. Nice story, nice add to history, nice documentation of repugnant ill-respect for indigenous species. #Caymankind. I’d prefer less development, and more education for how to protect species from “those that believe they know the rest of the story.”

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  18. Anonymous says:

    Thank you for saying this. The Cayman Islands seem to be on a relentless mission to destroy the environment and at the same time blame ‘invasive species’ for the damage created by humans. Never seen a more animal unfriendly country.

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    • Doug says:

      You’ve not travelled I presume? Well things aren’t great by here by any stretch of the imagination, there countless more animal unfriendly countries than Cayman.

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      • Anonymous says:

        True, but mist of them aren’t BOTS touting themselves as ‘world class’.

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      • Anonymous says:

        So that makes it OK then.

      • Anonymous says:

        CMR posted a photo of a dead collared dog floating near Barkers on FB literally yesterday

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        • Anonymous says:

          The culling of cats and the posting of a dead collared dog floating in Barkers makes me literally never want to return to the island. Treating animals inhumane is absolutely horrible in my mind.

          CNS: In Massachusetts coyotes are culled because they are pests and people hunt bears and deer for fun. Tell us where you are from.

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          • Mumbichi says:

            CNS: It might be more accurate to characterise the hunting of deer and bear as “for meat”, rather than “for fun”.

            In those cultures, it is much like our deep-water fishing; we occasionally take large fish and feed many people.

            CNS: The Native Americans may have hunted bears for skins and meat but this is not true of the hunters out there today. As for the deer, I’m sure most of the ones killed are eaten (at least the ones that are killed cleanly and die quickly) and it’s much much more humane than meat from a factory farm, but I suspect the prime motive is the fun factor. People like killing things.

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            • Anonymous says:

              CNS: I very respectfully disagree with you. Typical people do not like killing things. I won’t elaborate what my upbringing in NW Colorado entailed, but I disagree with your thoughts.

              CNS: You’re right. That was too generalised. A more accurate statement should be that some people like killing things. Some of those people go hunting for sport.

          • Anonymous says:

            Coyotes are culled mainly because they are dangerous to children and pet dogs and cats. Bear hunting doesn’t seem very relevant, but they are certainly dangerous to humans.

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    • Anon says:

      Let’s see where the invasive species came from. The green iguanas came here as pets and when they got too big and ugly they were released into the wild. Cats were domesticated by humans and instead of spaying and neutering them they were let out to wander and then became a problem. The lion fish, I have heard, came from an aquarium that broke during Hurricane Katrina and then the lion fish with no natural predators took over the Caribbean.
      Yes humans are to blame, but we are to blame for the invasive species coming into the islands. Ultimately humans do bear the responsibility but the immediate connection that can be controlled are the invasive species. If we hadn’t wanted lion fish and green iguanas as pets, then they would have never had that problem. If we had taken care of the cats and dogs, then we wouldn’t have the issue now with the brown boobies. You’re right it’s unfair that the feral cats are paying the price, but what other solution to you offer?

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  19. Anonymous says:

    Exactly.

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  20. Anonymous says:

    the author should note that one feral cat kills 1000 birds a year.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Patently false, cats are extremely lazy predators. They wouldn’t waste energy hunting 1,000 birds a year because they aren’t eating nearly 3 birds a day. Stop spreading nonsense.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Cats are not lazy predators.. and they are widely and universally known to hunt for sport. That’s why they attack you when you walk by them in your own house. They also kill to present gifts.. have you never walked outside to find a mouse head on your front porch? The 1000 figure might be excessive but the point is they are causing real destruction. There may be several contributing factors. Let’s deal with the easiest one first and then move on to the others because the local species are dying out while everyone has debated this for the past several years.

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        • Anonymous says:

          TRUE! Cats kill for fun. Yes, even well-fed house cats.

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        • Anonymous says:

          The cats on Grand Cayman are not a problem to brown boobies. I understand that this is an issue on the other two islands; however, why have the regulations affect Grand Cayman?!

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        • Anonymous says:

          I had one cat who was a Houdini escape artist. She would escape the house and apparently hunted during her foray. She would leave rats and mice, and once, a lizard, at our door, but never left me a bird of any sort. Probably too damn lazy.

    • Anonymous says:

      I should imagine that a bulldozer can kill well over 1000 per year of every sort of species.

  21. Anonymous says:

    If we’re quoting the Seabird Conservation Plan, it states very clearly that invasive predators are threatening the brown boobies.

    ‘Threats’ to species is plural. So habitat destruction AND cats. The plan states that solutions involve protecting habitat AND removing cats from that habitat.

    Was your argument that only habitat protection is needed?

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    • Anonymous says:

      The argument is that habitat protection has been needed for far far far too long. However, the successive governments, including this one, remain impotent and drag their feet until a problem becomes a crisis, then they do the knee-jerk thing to make it look like they are heroes. In my opinion, the DOE and DCB on Cayman Brac would have to really try very hard if they wanted to a worse job of protecting the environment by enforcing laws and regulations that are currently on the books. For example: When a planning application is approved, there is no directive for the Planning Officer and the DOE officer to inspect the land prior to clearing and identify and record environmental concerns like beach ridge and endangered/protected species. The DCB sets out specific constraints on mechanised clearing but I do not know of any case of the Planning Officer making a prior visit, nor do I know of consistent prosecution of offenders, even when complaints aer made.
      Cat culling: Way too little and wayyy to late. But makes a great show.

  22. Anonymous says:

    Bravo! Well said!

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  23. Anon says:

    Thank you “Cayman Bracker”. I too have said the most significant destruction comes from the following:

    Development
    Roads
    Human activity

    What about rat poison? How many Owls (native) and Ching Chings (endemic / found no where else but here) are killed by that? Owl naturally pray on rats and hemmorage to death after eating poisoned rats. Ching Chings eat anything and everything they see and can find.

    What about people who eat native birds and their eggs?

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    • Anonymous says:

      If you are eating native birds and their eggs – da what ya get.

    • Anonymous says:

      @3:48:
      Good points!
      On your question about the local taking and consumption of native birds and eggs: Other than accounts from family and friends about the quite distant past, I know of no one who now eats native birds or their eggs. (We had one ambitious lay who used to set calavans for roaming chickens to cook up, but sadly, I am informed that she is not longer able to do so.)
      I am not saying locals collecting local birds and eggs for consumption does not happen. Cayman Brac is a small community with many eyes and ears all about. Just saying that I have never seen or heard of such activity taking place in modern times. Except for hunters back in my early days on the Brac: several older people back then hunted bald pate pigeons for food. But, due to regulations–and probably also in part due the overall departure from traditional things by the younger generation–thankfully, that activity died out long ago.

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