2013-04-04 / Letters to the Editor

Humans, not cats, are biggest threat to birds

Leading biologists, climate scientists and environmental watchdogs all agree that the impact of humans on the environment is without a doubt the number-one cause of species loss. However, opponents of trap-neuterreturn, the effective approach to feral cat populations, continue to blame cats for the decline of the bird population.

Millions of bird deaths occur every year due to human activities. Nearly 100 million die from colliding with windows, 80 million from collisions with automobiles, and about 70 million from exposure to pesticides. Avoiding the issue of human impact to focus on sensational topics, such as the so-called “cat vs. bird debate,” only diverts attention away from the real problem (“Study shows alarming trend that bird mortality is connected to felines,” Feb. 21; “Some say euthanizing cats not humane,” March 14).

Cats have always been part of the natural environment and have lived outdoors for more than 10,000 years. While they have adapted to the changes people brought about in the environment, their natural instincts and interactions with their surroundings have not changed. What is different now is our dangerous impact on the environment and our unlimited use of natural resources that threatens the critical habitats and resources species need to survive.

Pitting one species against another may get people’s attention, but it won’t solve the problem. The fact remains that bird species are vanishing just as millions of healthy cats are killed in shelters across the United States every year. This senseless killing and waste of taxpayer dollars must stop. Trap-neuter-return successfully manages feral cat populations by ending reproduction. Because of the strategy, places where there were once large colonies of feral cats have seen those colonies shrink. There is good reason why many cities have changed from “catch and kill” to “neuter and return.”

Cats are not the real culprits, and irresponsible articles only confuse the issue, cause resentment towards cats, and distract attention from the real dangers to birds and other wildlife. There are many things we can do to protect birds by supporting conservation efforts. Take action by urging lawmakers to pass laws to protect local habitats and wetlands, promote sustainable forests and improve farming practices.

We must take a hard look at what we can do to minimize the way we impact our world and the animals with which we share it. Let us start by holding responsible the real offenders of species decline – ourselves.

Alexandra Zerba
Poor Richards Drive
Bow, N.H.

Return to top