This post is mostly about cats, but I promise: no female anatomy jokes. Read on, kids.
The American Bird Conservancy estimates that up to 500 million birds are killed each year by cats — about half by pets and half by feral felines. “I hope we can now stop minimizing and trivializing the impacts that outdoor cats have on the environment and start addressing the serious problem of cat predation,” said Darin Schroeder, the group’s vice president for conservation advocacy.
By contrast, 440,000 birds are killed by wind turbines each year, according to the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, although that number is expected to exceed one million by 2030 as the number of wind farms grows to meet increased demand.
Yet wind turbines often provoke greater outrage than cats do, said Gavin Shire, vice president of the Bird Conservancy. “The idea of a man-made machine chopping a bird in half creates a visceral reaction,” he said, “while the idea of a predator with its prey in its mouth — well we’ve seen that on the Nature Channel. People’s reaction is that it is normal for cats to kill birds.” — NYTimes
On display here is one of the many quandaries nature-loving, concerned-for-the-earth types confront when trying to strike a balance between their own comfort and the earth’s conservation. Sure, we want to reduce our dependence on oil through development of clean energy alternatives. Wind turbines, despite their noise and large footprint, are one such promising alternative. But they’re a deadly menace to native birds, who fly into their rotating blades even when giant multiple-language and graphic warning signs are posted to alert migratory birds as to their danger.
And then there’s the cute little kitties, far deadlier and immeasurably crueler. You feed them, cuddle them, give them toys and a safe, comfortable roost….does that matter? As soon as they’re out the door they’re murdering every living thing they encounter; lizards, snakes, rodents, frogs, and birds. When feral they often eat their prey, but house pets just kill for sport. The joy, the excitement. Think NRA with tails.
Our 5 cats prowl the neighborhood day and night. Four of them actively hunt. Just last weekend I found another dead rat on the front lawn, its head punctured, its body gnawed on. That’s two this week. We find mangled lizards daily, and piles of feathers mixed with the occasional beak and organ. Years ago, our alpha cat Ace dragged home from god knows where an entire rat still attached by the neck to an old-fashioned rat trap. Good boy, Ace. Give us a big wet kiss.
Cats arrived on these shores along with that other invasive species known as Europeans, whose ecological atrocities over the centuries make earthquakes and tsunamis look like spring drizzles. They — and we — are here for the long haul. Yes, we’re deadly, as deadly as nature itself, and too often just as unfeeling and cruel.
So I say, build those turbines, and keep sanitation crews standing by to mop up the carnage. It’s the cost of civilization, and, on the bright side, a viable alternative profession for all those soon-to-be-unemployed teachers, bankers, realtors, and unionized government workers on whom the nation is turning its back. The more turbines, the more dead birds.
Cats will survive the competition, believe me.