Letter: Save birds, keep cats indoors | AspenTimes.com

Letter: Save birds, keep cats indoors

Just imagine­ you’re a migratory bird that weighs a little more than 12 paper clips. You have just flown as many as 6,000 miles from South America over mountains, lakes, cities and even 700 miles nonstop over the Gulf of Mexico. You dodged bullets, storms, natural predators, starvation and exhaustion, just so you could come to the Roaring Fork Valley, make a nest and raise your family. All this to have your babies eaten by a careless pet owner!

Did you know that as many as 4 billion birds, including rare and endangered ones, are killed each year in North American by outdoors cats? No cat owner thinks it is their outdoor cat, but cat cams have proven otherwise. In fact, cats are the second leading cause of bird extinction, only after habitat destruction. The carnage that outdoor cats inflict is staggering and can no longer be ignored. This is a wake-up call for cat owners and communities to get serious about this problem before even more ecological damage occurs not only to our birds, but lizards, snakes, frogs and chipmunks.

Declawing and bells are mostly ineffective, and well-fed cats are just as predatory. It’s not their fault. It is the owner’s responsibility to take care of their pet. Indoor and supervised outdoor cats live healthier and longer lives. Because we brought the domestic cat to North America, we have a responsibility to both the cats and to the wild animals they affect to keep them indoors or supervised while outside, ­just like our dogs. I know some people that have trained their cats to walk with harnesses and have even seen them on hiking trails.

What would life be like without birds? They are insect-eating machines and pollinators. Some scientists say that the forests of the East would be gone in one year if there were no birds to eat the insects.

Please talk to your commissioners and town trustees to help pass legislation that require cat owners to comply with the same regulations as dog owners. There also is information on the American Bird Conservancy’s website about how to convince your town to adopt legislation. Go to http://www.abcbirds.org.

Let’s work together so that we and our children will be able to enjoy the spectacle of migration and birds forever.

Marry Harris

Roaring Fork Audubon