Many of Canada’s birds are in trouble; some have declined by over 90%.
The official list of Bird Species at Risk increased from 47 to 86 between 2001 and 2014. Habitat destruction and climate change are taking their toll, but a lot of birds die due to other human actions and decisions. Environment Canada research estimates that, in addition to the impacts of climate change and habitat loss, 270 million birds a year die as a result of people. Cats, both pet and feral, are estimated to cause 75% of those deaths.
The situation facing domestic cats is also dire. Pet cats are too often treated as disposable, allowed to roam freely outdoors where they face many dangers. In 2011, more than 50,000 were euthanized because the shelters weren’t able to find homes for them. Twice as many cats are dumped in shelters compared to dogs, and whereas 30 per cent of dogs are reunited with their owners, less than 5% of cats are returned home.
The feral cat population is growing rapidly, and we lack a coherent national strategy for reducing it. While cats’ independent natures might lead some people to treat them like something between pet and wildlife, we owe them the same level of care we give dogs.
For the cats’ sake, for the birds’ sake, and for our own sake, we need to change how we care for our beloved feline friends.
Through a campaign called Keep Cats Safe and Save Bird Lives, Nature Canada and its partners, including Nature Alberta, will help educate the public about these twin issues, and aim to keep 200,000 cats safe from free-roam, extending those cats’ lives and saving the lives of 3,000,000 birds.
In 1970, six natural history clubs joined together to form the Federation of Alberta Naturalists. Today, this same organization, known as Nature Alberta serves a membership of over 40 clubs and represents thousands of individuals across the province. Every one of these individuals share a passion for natural history.
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