I like so many others, like shooting, and like a good many others like cats and dogs. Both of these creatures offer a welcome relief as pets to many, many people, and they both have proven worth for the elderly as well as the sick. I’m not against anyone having either or both of these creatures, but if they are not controlled by their owners both are capable of doing sever damage to either stock or wildlife. In the UK wild dogs are not, as yet a major problem, unlike some parts of the USA, where packs of dogs roam unimpeded. Here, dogs, left uncontrolled by their owners whilst out walking in the countryside can wreak havoc on a heard of sheep or cows, often the dogs end up being shot by the farmer or his staff, much to the dismay of the dog owners.
Cats on the other hand are not a considered threat to sheep or cattle, but over the years many domestic cats have gone feral, and live in the wild without the need for man. Many domestic cats too are quite able to survive without their can of cat food, which leads me to a point I’d like to draw your attention to.
Recently an article appeared, based upon some very old surveys, about the effects that lead from shooting may have on the wild bird population here in the UK, and by extension elsewhere in the world. The report admitted that it could not verify its figures, and had extrapolated its results based upon the information available. The report concluded that between 50,000 and 100,000 birds may have died, each year, due to the effects of shooting and the lead shot used. As I said, this was a report taken from old study material, and since the original study was undertaken, all responsible shooters have sought out cartridges using a suitable lead replacement; This combined with legislation regarding the taking of wildfowl, and shooting over wildfowl habitat, and only using lead substitutes, have made considerable in roads to preserving both the birds and their habitat.
As I say, I’ve no axe to grind here, but a quick look at the RSPB web site regarding the cat populations, wild and domestic, effect upon the wildlife of the UK, there seems to be a disparity in their approach. The RSPB details that somewhere in the region of 275,000,000 items of prey are taken each year by cats, of this 55,000,000 are birds. Added to this figure is the unknown quantity of creatures that are caught and escape, only to die later of the wounds. The RSPB web site goes on to say that, “Despite the large numbers of birds killed, there is no scientific evidence that predation by cats in gardens is having any impact on bird populations UK-wide.” They go to say, “It is likely that most of the birds killed by cats would have died anyway from other causes before the next breeding season, so cats are unlikely to have a major impact on populations. If their predation was additional to these other causes of mortality, this might have a serious impact on bird populations.”
It would appear that there is, as usual, an agenda lead reason for justifying the acceptable disparity between shooting and cat ownership. Or put another way, and I hate it when people talk in percentage terms, but this time it really brings home what the RSPB find acceptable, or un-acceptable. Using only the figures that are widely available to everyone on this issue, if you take the time to look, the 50,000-100,000 figure, based on surveys and reports conducted over thirty years ago, when lead shot was widely used in wildfowling, represents a figure of less than .2% or two tenths of one percent of the 55,000,000 acceptable birds killed by cats. So will we at any time soon hear the RSPB call for stricter controls on cats, or the use of a cat substitute, I don’t think so!