Cowardly euphemisms annoy me.

You know what I’m talking about — the politically correct but emotionally insincere phrases we use when discussing uncomfortable topics such as physical disabilities or losing a job.

Cloying and irritating euphemisms often insinuate themselves into the language of conservation workers who are working on invasive species issues. And if the work involves dealing with invasive mammals, the conversation becomes highly euphemized indeed!

Insulated with subterfuge, the descriptions of the conservation actions turn into something like: “Our management protocol involves a significant reduction in population size of the target invasive using the most humane, lethal methods available.”

And this is coming from people who are usually straight-talking and passionate about what they do!

I’m not blaming them — who wants to anger animal rights constituents? Even Homer Simpson could see the public relations danger in talking about…oh…killing feral cats. So instead, the euphemisms are trotted out in an attempt to soften the notion of all those animals being killed.

Oh…my…god! Did I just use an honest verb like “killed”? Twice??

Here is a different model for talking about invasive animal control. Instead of invoking clinical terminology, we should admit that this work can be heartbreaking, and that despite the so-called humane methods being used, animals are being killed for doing only what animals try to do — survive and reproduce.

Why soften the verbal blow? Keep it prickly! Remind us all that conservationists are having to take horrible actions in order to fix the errors that we, as a society, are making.

Studies repeatedly tell us that it makes dollar sense to prevent invasions, that it is better to avoid invasions than to manage them once they become established.

Even so, members of our society continue to make the mistake of releasing animals (sometimes intentionally) into the wild. Maybe being more straightforward about “control programs” will put enough sting into the message so people will pay attention.

Would it make sense to risk a picket line today if it stopped people from forcing us to kill a bunch of cats in a couple of years?

If you believe in the work we’re doing, please lend a hand.


  1. Thank you for some ‘straight-shooting’! It’s well past time we – as a society and individuals – admit to ourselves and the collective – that life is painful. There are some very painful parts of life that we just can’t sweep away or avoid. In fact, facing them, dealing with them -honestly- makes us all better people and a stronger community.

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