Making D.C.’s Natural Predators (Cats) Great Again.

The Human Rescue Alliance gets it right.

Thanks to the ever excellent, Washington, D.C. staple, Prince of Petworth blog, I learned about the irresistibly logical initiative launched by the Humane Rescue Alliance and RP3 Agency called the Blue Collar Cats Program.

It beautifully pairs local, pest beleaguered businesses, with local pest exterminators with thousands of years of evolutionary experience (LPEWTOYOEE?). All the while purportedly costing less than alternatives, reducing the use of pesticides, and of course providing homes to otherwise unadoptable cats (though, at the risk of alienating the audience, most cats are unadoptable by me personally). From an economic perspective it seems to benefit the business, the city in about 6 different ways, the cats, those of us humans tired of opening our back door to be greeted by rustling in the dark somewhere at ankle level, and likely more.

The District government is clearly aware and invested in the abatement issue considering just last year it partnered with the National Park Service to more effectively combat the rodents. The Department of Health has a dedicated program oddly name the Rodent and Vector Control Division (including a must-see, clearly Hitchcock inspired informational video), so we can at least infer they value abatement enough to dedicate significant resources to it.

And yet D.C. was recently named the 3rd rattiest city in America. The solution repeatedly and hopefully proffered in the film is industrial pesticide; just what you want sprayed in and around your home. Which begs the question, why hasn’t the city council itself turned to cats before now? And to take that one step further, why stop with rat abatement?

Popville, as the blog is known, happens to regularly feature another, if yet unsanctioned, LPEWTOYOEEs (thats not going to work is it?), hawks and other birds of prey. Aspirational global cities such as Dubai have already successfully turned to this method.

Local outlets even noticed the effectiveness back in 2013. Why not actively provide these natural occurring pest control services with habitats and resources to help them thrive, and save government resources in the process?

Another wonder of the natural world rolled through the media recently and sparked in my mind the notion of a third practical application of local predators. A paper in the Science of Nature journal revealed that spiders consume as much as double the volume of insects, springtails, and other invertebrates as the volume of meat and fish humans consume. Anyone who has been to D.C. in the summer months has surely begged for relief from the flying plague that descends on the nations capital. And while the DC Department of Health is concerned about insect abatement as well it has as of yet to turn to one of the foremost experts in the field.

Why stop with the anti-air batteries when you can bring in the air force? One typically oppressive summer afternoon last year, as the omnipresent gnats swarmed the brim of my hat and I lined up to miss an eminently makable putt, I noticed slightly perceptible pops sounding around my head. After taking my bogey, I took in my surroundings to find dragonflies participating in an astonishing dog fight, picking off the gnats, pop by pop. As it turns out, my anecdotal revelation has been noticed by others as well with the Houston Chronicle stating, “Killing mosquitoes is a lifelong mission for dragonflies.” I understand the presence of spiders may affront those among with more delicate sensibilities but dragonflies are basically nature’s elegant fighter jets.

While I’m sure pest abatement only scratches the surface of potential applications for incorporating nature into modern human systems (hello pollinators!), it is absolutely an executable, cost saving, concrete step the D.C. City Council could and should take towards creating a healthy environment for its people and its nature.