Week 3: Examining The Roots
Hey, and welcome back to my blog!
This week was quite informative. On Saturday, I made my first visit to Dr. Cuonzo’s farm. I honestly didn’t expect the ecological diversity and harmony which I encountered. Many plants had to be removed in order to prevent a competition for resources. The plants all survived this effort because April is right on the cusp of full-blown spring, so the plants were still in their winter “hibernation” state. In addition, I learned about several types of non-bee-pollinated plants, including curly dock, spicebush, bayberries, hickory nuts, and pecans, among a myriad of others. These are crucial for my project, since the bee population is rapidly declining, so alternatives must be sought out and planted en masse as a safety precaution. Dr. Cuonzo also pointed out that people are very stubborn, so they will be very reluctant to modify their diets, even if it would end up saving them.
I also read Bryan Kortis’ 2014 book Community TNR: Tactics and Tools. Kortis co-founded Neighborhood Cats, a leading organization in TNR (Trap, Neuter, Release) across the entire U.S., and still plays an active role in the movement to curb the feral cat population. His webinar actually gave me everything I needed to become a certified TNR trapper. Kortis’ book is a double-edged sword for my study: it provides seasoned knowledge about TNR, in addition to multiple case studies which illustrate why TNR is the preferred method for curbing the feral cat population. He also provides numerous actionable solutions throughout his book. However, many of the statements given in the book reveal an excess of sympathy for ferals, which is a root cause of why the overpopulation situation is currently so severe. It is not any entity’s fault for bearing these biases, but they do help my research answer the question of “how did we get here?”
Lastly, I asked Bidawee and Brooklyn Bridge Animal Welfare Coalition (BBAWC)—some of the most involved feral cat organizations in NYC—for a second interview with representatives, which would help me fill in any key pieces of information which I’d need for the population-graphing section of my project.
Overall, I’m looking forward to returning to the farm on May 13th, as well as conducting more interviews in the future. I couldn’t be happier about how well my research has been going thus far, and I remain optimistic.