The Washington Post today has another of their “scientists say” articles (they’re actually just wildlife advocates — well, only certain wildlife, as you’ll see) about how too many birds are falling prey because of excessive outdoor cats:
Scientists are quietly raging about the effects that cats, both owned and stray, are having on bird populations. It’s not an issue that has received much attention, but with an estimated 90 million pet cats in the United States, two-thirds of them allowed outdoors, the cumulative effect on birds is significant, according to experts….
“Two-thirds of all bird species are in decline in the U.S.,” said Steve Holmer, a policy adviser with the American Bird Conservancy in Washington. “Cats are a contributing factor.”
The story goes on to explain that it’s really the humans’ fault — as usual — because they are letting their cats roam free. So what does the Bird Conservancy say we should do with the cats?
Cat owners should keep their cats indoors….Many veterinarians and animal welfare organizations support keeping cats indoors for their own safety, as well as to prevent them from killing wildlife. Outdoor cat colonies, sustained through the practice of Trap Neuter Release are also bad for birds, do not help reduce the overpopulation of feral cats, and are often bad for the cats themselves, who lead short, harsh lives. Instead, feral cats should be kept in enclosures, trapped and adopted to loving homes, or euthanized.
Why any animal lover would want to interfere with the natural cycle is puzzling. What makes a bird’s life more valuable than a cat’s? And if we’re concerned about animals’ safety, they should all be kept indoors. But again, it’s not a the cats’ fault; it’s the humans. Meanwhile, the Conservancy has this advice for that other serial bird killer, wind turbines:
American Bird Conservancy supports alternative energy sources, including wind power, but emphasizes that prior to the approval and implementation of new wind energy projects, potential risks to birds should be evaluated through site analyses, including assessments of bird abundance, timing, and magnitude of migration, and habitat use patterns.
Wind energy project location, design, operation, and lighting should be carefully evaluated to prevent bird mortality, as well as adverse impacts caused by habitat fragmentation, disturbance, and site avoidance. Wind power projects should be sited on areas with poor habitat where possible, such as heavily disturbed lands, (e.g. intensive agriculture).
Excellent guidelines to prevent adverse impacts of wind power generation on birds are already in existence, but these need to be turned into mandatory regulations.
So, already costly and inefficient-at-energy-producing wind turbines, which will have no effect on the climate, should be given their own “habitat” with a higher environmental compliance price tag. But you need to keep all cats indoors, or kill them. Ack.
Paul Chesser is executive director for the American Tradition Institute and a senior fellow for the Commonwealth Foundation for Public Policy Alternatives. The views he expresses do not necessarily reflect the views of these organizations.
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