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Things You Can Do To Help Wildlife
I love cats! BUT-- Outdoor cats cause tremendous suffering and loss of life among wildlife. And it is entirely preventable. Domestic pets do not kill for food or survival, but rather for sport. This often results in a slow torture of their prey. Baby birds are especially vulnerable, as they have absolutely no defenses when they leave the nest. Remember that wild animals have no choice about where they live; they have to try to survive outside. Cats, on the other hand, are our long-domesticated and much-loved pets, not part of the food chain, and it is not "just nature" for them to kill wildlife. Cats do retain a natural instinct to "play with" and kill wildlife, and they WILL do it, so it is up to their owners to prevent them from being able to.
This is a very difficult concept for cat-lovers to grasp. It's easier to "close your eyes" to the problem than to make difficult changes. Rehabbers do not have that luxury. We are faced daily with the suffering inflicted by cats, knowing that it can, and should, be avoided. PLEASE HELP by keeping your kitties in the house!
All cats can adjust to the indoor life and be very happy (my six cats are living proof!). It may take time and patience, but it is much safer and healthier for them, and you will be saving untold numbers of defenseless animals in the wild. Won't it be nice knowing your cat will not be one more victim killed in the street, and never
having to worry about him not coming home some night?
For more very useful information on how and why to keep your cat happy in the house, please visit:
Cat Indoors! (page for downloadable information sheets)
Be a responsible pet owner and remind your neighbors to be the same. Please observe local leash laws...for the sake of your pet and area wildlife.
Provide a habitat for wildlife; turn your backyard, or even your patio, into your own personal wildlife refuge. Plant shrubs which provide cover for small mammals and fledging baby birds. Provide sheltered food and water sources. Birds are especially attracted to the sound of dripping water. Put up bird houses, and protect them from predators. Purchase and plant trees, shrubs and other vegetation that are native to our region. Also, allowing your
grass to grow a little high will allow tasty weeds and other plants to sprout. This is great for the birds, who will then carry the seeds to other places and "plant" them to create more food sources. Remember that a manicured lawn, while very attractive, is extremely wildlife-unfriendly. The chemicals used on lawns poison many birds each year.
In addition to the toxicity problem, the park-like growth does not support or provide any protection for wildlife. Plants and shrubs of varying heights surrounding your trees will help. Here are a few sites that can help you plan
Brush piles provide excellent protection and cover for small animals such as rabbits. Ground feeding birds will
get lots of use out of them, too. In the animal kingdom, there is no such thing as "yard waste"!
Consider sharing your chimney with chimney swifts for the spring and summer months. They are fascinating to watch and great at eating flying bugs. They are suffering severe loss of habitat, and rely more and more on man-made nesting sites such as chimneys or specially designed swift towers. This is one species we can really help just by opening up our chimneys to them.
Remember that birds start nesting early in the spring. Schedule any tree removals or major shrub pruning for times when birds won't be using them!
Get your kids involved in making bird houses. This is also a great project for any group.