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The newsletter of the Humane Society of Pagosa Springs (HSPS) states that they have sterilized over 350 stray feral cats through their trap-neuter return (TRN) program. By their estimate, this represents about a third of the feral cat population of our area.
Return of feral cats to survive on their own is misguided, destructive and cruel. Many of these were born in a garage or basement, have slept on a bed or a sofa, and had food provide daily before they were discarded or escaped.
Each of those 350 cats discarded means a daily loss of at least 350 baby birds, night-roosting birds, chipmunks or harmless field voles. Native birds have lost about half of their populations in the last four decades according to Audubon Society surveys and USGS Breeding Bird Survey conducted each June by about 2,500 volunteer birders. The National Audubon Society says a quarter of the U.S. bird populations have been in decline since the 1970s. The reasons given are habitat fragmentation, depletion of food resources, pollution and incursion of non-native species or “alien attacks.”
Alien attacks include snakes, rats, cats, plants and insects. We do not have a snake problem, or rats. Domestic (feral) cats are credited with being the second most destructive force on urban wild bird populations, following reflective windows in tall buildings. We don’t have tall buildings. Worldwatch Institute in Washington D.C. states that human-caused factors are the central reason for bird population decline. They cite the need for “rural, suburban and urban planning efforts” to make our cities safer for native species. By such planning, the mistaken procedures of our humane society by providing feral cats to our community should be eliminated.