Tuesday, June 07, 2005

GONHS warning on “Genetic Pollution”

GONHS (The Gibraltar Ornithological & Natural History Society) has expressed concern at the release of unwanted pets on the Upper Rock.

A spokesman said:

“In recent years GONHS members have observed animals not native to the Upper Rock, which have clearly been released deliberately or allowed to wander.

Apart from cats, which are now well established and causing great problems to our wildlife, these have included iguanas, peacocks, domestic chickens and rabbits.

Many of these animals will either die slowly of starvation or get killed, and so their release is cruel, but they can also be a danger to our own wild animals.

Cats kill young rabbits and partridges, as do snakes, while peacocks and chickens compete with the wild Barbary partridges for food.

Recently, in one small area, GONHS removed ten domestic rabbits and found another two that had been killed by cats. These domestic rabbits will interbreed with the local wild rabbit causing “genetic pollution” and destroying the possibly unique characteristics of these wild mammals.

GONHS calls on pet owners not to take their pets up the Rock. In any case releasing non-native animals on the Upper Rock is an offence against the Nature Protection Ordinance.

GONHS is always willing to give advice on dealing with unwanted pets, as is the GSPCA, but the best idea is not to buy a pet unless you are sure that you can give it a long term home."

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