Letter: Clarity on cats | AspenTimes.com

Letter: Clarity on cats

Hopefully this letter will clarify the July 28 Carbondale Town Board meeting and recommendations made by the Roaring Fork Audubon Society regarding the safety of our wildlife and outdoor cats.

The board and members of the Roaring Fork Audubon Society are dedicated to protecting our native wildlife, and many of us are committed and caring cat and dog owners.

Europeans introduced cats to our country. We now have more than 93 million owned cats in the U.S. We owe it to our pets to take care of them and to protect our wildlife. We all know the dangers outdoor cats face, and we know through research their impact on our declining native bird population.

Cats are not at fault. They are natural predators, rarely bringing their prey home. Most pet owners don’t realize their cats are killing wildlife while outside. Bells and declawing are not effective deterrents. Rodent control is also more effective when the cat is inside, controlling the target species.

Extensive scientific research by the American Bird Conservancy, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Canadian Bird Studies, among other respected research organizations, has determined that as many as 4 billion birds a year are killed by cats in North America alone.

Our forests would be in further peril without native birds pollinating and propagating them and eating harmful insects. Many of our native bird populations are in decline; many are threatened. The simple act of being a responsible pet owner can have a great impact on their survival.

The Roaring Fork Audubon Society works on important issues such as habitat loss, glass collisions, pesticide and herbicide use, and shade-grown coffee. Together, we all can make a difference by ensuring that we supervise our pet cats, as we do our pet dogs.

We also field calls from upset homeowners when neighbors’ cats are in their yards, with no means to keep them out. Our recommended legislation is complaint-based, requiring that cat owners be held to the same regulations as dog owners.

Although this proposed rule solely applies to owned pets, we encourage steps for feral cat populations such as better funding for spay and neuter programs and public education on the harm and cruelty caused by abandoning cats and kittens.

Mary Harris

Roaring Fork Audubon Society board member