Some of you may have seen some of our research commented on in the media earlier in the week. The research has been interpreted as supporting Gareth Morgan’s campaign on cats, but I don’t think it’s anywhere near as clear cut as that.
In other words, don’t believe the spin of a campaign that selectively quoted the results.
The media reports focussed on one statistic: the fact that 54% of New Zealanders supported some form of controls that would reduce the future population of cats, once told that an Otago University study estimates 1.12 million native birds are killed by domestic cats each year in New Zealand. The question cannot, however, be treated in isolation: the other questions in the survey make clear that the sorts of controls people are actually prepared to have are actually pretty mild.
So what were the full results.
- 62% believe that all cats should be neutered or spayed.
- 57% think that cats should be banned from areas near wildlife reserves, forests and national parks
- 53% believe that all cats should be registered and microchipped
- 42% consider that all cats should wear bells
- Just 12% believe that cat owners should not replace their cats when they die
- Only 7% think that cats should be kept indoors at all times of the day.
This reflects I think the common sense approach of New Zealanders. Only 7% agree with the more extreme proposals from Morgan, but a bit over half agree with some of the more moderate stuff.
Gavin also points out:
In the question on banning cats from near wildlife reserves, forests and national parks, I suspect that many people would have used a reasonably narrow definition of the word ‘near’ (e.g. within a few streets of the park boundary). It would be stretching the case to say that the poll supports banning cats from whole suburbs or towns (like Karori, which is adjacent to the Zealandia wildlife reserve, or Ohakune, which is near the boundary of Tongariro National Park).
A very good point also. It’s good to have pollsters commenting on their own research publicly – they are often the one best placed to know what limits there are in interpreting what it means.