Pro-bird groups push for renewed cat-control laws in Halifax
Published Wednesday, June 13, 2018 5:59PM EDT
Conservation groups in Halifax are renewing a push to revive a bylaw restricting the movement of cats a decade after it was scrapped.
To quell cat lovers’ concerns, they insist that they have nothing against felines.
“There’s a perception that any conservation groups that are interested in this issue are vilifying cats,” said Veronica Sherwood with the Ecology Action Centre. “That’s not at all what we’re trying to do.”
In large part, the push for limiting cat movement in public is to protect birds, which become the prey of stray and roaming felines every year. In 2007, Halifax passed a bylaw to register and restrict the movement of cats, but it was quickly scrapped six months later.
In recent years, the municipality began funding a “trap, neuter, release, recovery” program at the Nova Scotia SPCA. Some believe a renewed bylaw is not necessary now that the program has effectively alleviated some of the problem. The clinic said they have completed more than 17,000 surgeries since opening, meaning there are fewer cats in Halifax than before.
Still, some estimates say that cats kill between 2 and 4 million birds every year in Halifax alone.
“They’re declining everywhere. We’re seeing 90 per cent (declines) in some species,” said David Currie, president of the Nova Scotia Bird Society. His passion has turned to activism along with scores of others, including acclaimed Canadian author Margaret Atwood, who wrote a graphic novel called Angel Catbird inspired by the plight of birds.
"Migratory songbirds -- the ones that eat the insects in our boreal forests -- they're showing a sharp decline in numbers. So that is economically bad for us," Atwood told the Canadian Press in 2016. "We should all be working to up their numbers because the more dead trees you get from insect infestations, the more forest fires you're going to get."
Though the declining bird population is also due to climate change, poisons and pollution, according to experts, feral and domestic cats kill millions each year.
With a report from CTV Atlantic’s Bruce Frisko