The American Bird Conservancy is an international leader is the efforts to save the world’s bird populations, especially birds of the Western Hemisphere. Across the Western Hemisphere, 12 percent of the New World’s 4,230 bird species are declining in population and headed for extinction in our lifetimes without immediate conservation action.The Conservancy has published its annual report recently, which contained this extraordinary graphic:
WC directs your attention to the upper left hand corner. House cats – both feral cats and pets permitted to be outdoors – kill 2.4 billion birds a year. That four times more than collisions with buildings and windows. In facts, house cats are twice as bad as all other threats to birds combined. The message couldn’t be clearer: if we want to protect our declining populations of wild birds, we have to do something about house cats.
It’s a subject that is fraught, because cat lovers are extremely difficult to reason with. The obvious solution – euthanize wild cats and sanction cat owners who let their animals outside – is anathema to most cat lovers. It doesn’t seem to matter to the unreasoning cat lovers that cats make their living killing birds; the cat lovers don’t want the cats killed. It’s okay that cats kill birds – that’s just “cats being cats.” But it’s not okay to kill cats that are threatening the very existence of birds. That not only specieisist; it’s threatening dozens of bird species with extinction.
WC has complained before about the cruel insanity of Trap-Neuter-Release. Cruel, because feral cats lead miserable, harsh lives. Insane because the problem is cats in the wild, and putting cats back in the wild obviously isn’t going to address the problem. The marginal benefit that they aren’t able to breed is far too slight to justify the cruelty and insanity.
Allowing cats to continue to live in feral cat colonies is neither humane nor effective. Allowing your cat to be outdoors is very dangerous to your cat. You risk disease, accidents and predators. And it is deadly to our dwindling avifauna.
We don’t need this invasive species loose in the wild. We don’t need to jeopardize, let alone lose, more native bird species. Control the cats.