Each year, hundreds of millions of birds and other wildlife are killed by cats around the world. Cats, many of them homeless, hunt other wildlife for survival and for feeding

Each year, hundreds of millions of birds and other wildlife are killed by cats around the world. Cats, many of them homeless, hunt other wildlife for survival and for feeding their young (some may say they also kill for the simple pleasure of it). Cats have been blamed by many ornithologists (bird scientists) for killing scores of endangered birds. Each cat that lives in rural areas can kill up to 100 animals per year, while city cats (along with raccoons) can decimate urban rookeries (nesting places). In addition to the numerous house sparrows, pigeons, grackles, and starlings that cats kill (these are all non-native species in the United States and are themselves considered “undesirable” species by many people), cats also kill endangered birds, mammals, and reptiles. Besides posing a considerable threat to wildlife, free-roaming cats themselves are in danger of being killed by disease, cars, dogs, parasites, and people who shoot, trap, and poison them. Free-roaming cats often live short, violent lives, and die violent, often prolonged, deaths. This controversy involves three players: cats, wildlife, and humans. Cats impact the wildlife (and the environment) by hunting various species of wildlife. Many people let their cats outdoors, thinking that the cats need to be hunting, and that it is cruel to keep them indoors. Other people shoot cats on sight, believing they are pests and are better off dead. Still other people trap cats, spay or neuter and vaccinate them, feed them and then release them, thus hoping to reduce their impact on wildlife without making the cat suffer. Another group believes that cats are replacing mid-sized predators (such as foxes and raccoons) that have been eliminated by humans. Organizations, depending on their interests, have either vilified or defended cats, and voices (and tempers) are often raised when it comes to the issue of the impact of cats on wildlife. This issue, and the resulting devastation to wildlife, is strictly human created. The solution to this problem is incredibly simple: spay or neuter the cat, and keep it indoors (“fixed” cats are much happier to remain in the house, and don’t want to roam the neighborhood looking for a mate). When polled, 65% of those responding felt that cats were safer indoors, and more than 40% would keep cats indoors if they knew cats, and wildlife, would be safer. So, why aren’t cats kept inside, and away from wildlife? People are uneducated, or apathetic, about this problem. Regulations are often nonexistent, and stray cats (and dogs) are seen as expendable (shelters kill over 14 million cats and dogs per year in the United States). could be a relatively simple environmental problem to solve is only now beginning to be addressed. The solution is still years away. Students will interview people from several organizations about the wild cat issue. The class can divide into four groups, or go to as many groups as time permits. (1) Locate four groups of people that have experience dealing with feral cats: the local animal shelter, a group involved with birds (eg,. the Audubon Society), an animal rehabilitator, and a group involved with cats (eg., Alley Cat Allies, a cat rescue center, etc.) (2)At the local animal shelter, talk to someone who deals with feral cats. Ask him or her the following questions: Is there a problem with cat overpopulation in this area? How many cats are brought into the shelter each year? How many of these cats are feral (e.g., wild, strays)? happens to these cats (are they adopted, killed, etc.)? Has anyone who brought in a cat told of seeing the cat kill wildlife? is the best solution to the cat overpopulation problem? (3) Ask the person involved with bird issues the following questions: Is there a problem with cat overpopulation in this area? How many cats has this person seen in his/her community? happens to these feral cats (are they adopted, killed, poisoned, etc.)? Has this person seen a cat kill wildlife? type of wildlife is killed by cats? is the best solution to the cat overpopulation problem? (4) Ask the person involved with wildlife rehabilitation the following questions: Is there a problem with cat overpopulation in this area? How many cats has this person seen in his/her community? happens to these feral cats (are they adopted, killed, poisoned, etc.)? Has this person seen a cat kill wildlife? type of wildlife is killed by cats? is the best solution to the cat overpopulation problem? (5) Finally, ask the person involved with cats the following questions: Is there a problem with cat overpopulation in this area? How many cats has this person seen in his/her community? happens to these feral cats (are they adopted, killed, poisoned, etc.)? Has this person seen a cat kill wildlife? type of wildlife is killed by cats? is the best solution to the cat overpopulation problem? Questions: (1) Did these four very different groups agree that there was a cat overpopulation problem? Why or why not? (2) was the general consensus about the damage that feral cats cause to wildlife? (3) were some of the solutions to the problem of feral cats that each group came up with? Were these solutions the same among the four groups? (4) Did the type of group you interviewed affect the responses you got? group was the most antagonistic toward cats? The most sympathetic? (5) do you think is the best solution for all involved: wildlife, cats, and humans? How could this solution be implemented? (6) Why is it unacceptable to many people in the United States just to simply shoot, poison, or trap cats to solve this problem?

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