THE young woman was clearly on a mission.
Last Tuesday afternoon I was waiting for the pink moon to poke its swollen dial over the horizon. I'd made my way to an excellent vantage point in King Edward Park - or King Edward Commuter Car Park as it is more accurately described.
And forget that changing any time soon, with local government elections just over four months away. I eagerly await the CEO's undertaking to "'flip the power' from a narrow perspective focused on vehicles to a broader perspective focused on people" to apply to King Edward Park.
Perhaps the removal of unrestricted and uncharged parking in King Edward Park is such deal-breaker for the sophisticated people of the Newcastle local government area that our elected representatives - who can put a stop to this nonsense with a few signs and parking officer enforcement - allow this ongoing invasion of drivacy to destroy the park's potential vibe through inaction.
Yet the world didn't implode when paid parking was introduced to Blackbutt Reserve. What really irks is that the CoN car park that was built in King Edward Park often remains near empty on weekdays because, although there is no cost to motorists, there is a time limit on that parking. Whereas around the edges of the park, much of the car parking is unrestricted and that is what is attractive to commuters.
The woman on a mission moved to the rear of her car and opened the vehicle's boot. There were dozens of tins of cat food. She scooped a few into a bag and as she walked past me, smiled and said she was "just feeding the stray cats". She disappeared into the coastal scrub. I heard her calling the cats.
Am I now complicit whenever a native bird ends up in the jaws of one of the resident King Edward Park moggies?
After feeding the cats, she walked back past me to her car. I was caught in that netherworld where I didn't know whether to engage her and discuss the many issues associated with feeding the cats or to say nothing, because here was a person who was showing compassion towards animals who - through no fault of their own - had ended up here to fend for themselves.
Of course, last December's botched cat shooting episode on the Stockton breakwall was on my mind and it may well have been on hers. I said nothing and watched the moon peek over the horizon until it was well into the sky.
What should have I done? Mind my own beeswax? Gently attempt to reason?
When confronted with decisions where reason meets emotion in discussion, I am reminded of the work of the French social psychologist and author Clotaire Rapaille, who has spent a lifetime advising politicians and advertisers on how to influence decision-making. Rapaille convincingly argues that about 80 per cent of all decision making is done via the brain's limbic system which deals with emotions and memory.
Would it have been worth a crack for me to attempt to discuss the problem with feeding the cats? On what grounds? If they aren't fed, might they hunt for their food? But even well-fed cats hunt. What about calling in the Stray Cats Project? Should I have suggested that approach?
Why didn't I say anything? Was I concerned she would have thought me a cat hater and an argument may have ensued? Am I now complicit whenever a native bird ends up in the jaws of one of the resident King Edward Park moggies?
The federal parliament's Standing Committee on Environment and Energy inquiry into the problem of feral and domestic cats in Australia received 197 submissions. The final report, released in February, recommended Project Noah to bring together the expertise and resources to protect threatened native species from the predation of feral cats and other predators.
Committee chair Ted O'Brien MP noted that cats had decimated populations of Australian wildlife, killing billions of native animals each year.
"Feral cats kill over three billion native animals a year which equates to a kill rate of more than 1100 per cat," O'Brien said.
"One of the great tragedies of last year's Black Summer Bushfires was the loss of wildlife, with between one and three billion animals perishing.
"To think that feral cats kill more wildlife on an annual basis really put this problem in perspective."
The cats in the coastal scrub in King Edward Park don't belong there.
They should not be fed.
Their hunting instincts ensure an ongoing threat to birds and lizards. Along with commuter parking, the cats must be removed from King Edward Park.
And yes, the pink moon was fabulous.
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