The Stewardship Centre for BC released an important report today, “Reducing the Impact of Cats on Birds and Wildlife“.
The report presents findings of a public opinion poll and telephone survey about allowing cats to roam and their impact on birds and wildlife. The report also includes findings on attitudes to municipal cat bylaws and other stewardship practices at the local level.
The findings will help shape SCBC’s educational program on cats and birds.
To change behaviours, we needed to understand attitudes
Domestic cats are estimated to be one of the single largest sources of human-related bird mortality. Cats kill an estimated 100-350 million birds per year in Canada, more than all other sources of human-related activities combined.
This is due to the common practice of allowing cats to roam outside unsupervised, and to the increase in feral cat populations in urban and rural areas.
Changing the behaviour of pet owners could help to lessen this significant human-related impact on wildlife. But to change behaviours, it is important to first understand attitudes about the issue.
While the impact of domestic and feral cats on bird mortality has been documented, there have been few studies examining public attitudes towards roaming cats. To our knowledge, this is the first such study in British Columbia.
Some of our findings
- Of cat owners surveyed, less than half (48%) keep their cats indoors (see Figure 2).
- Amongst pet owners, 45% strongly agree or agree that cats are a significant cause of bird mortality (see Figure 7).
- The survey of local governments and cat welfare organizations revealed that few municipalities have or enforce no-roam bylaws. All community interview respondents would consider offering their support to a public education campaign.
- Local governments representatives interviewed in communities that enforce no-roam or sterilization/ID bylaws, consider the bylaws a success and see a favorable public response.
Read more about the survey results in the report.
The Stewardship Centre worked with University of British Columbia (UBC) Environmental Science students to develop and implement the public online survey and a targeted telephone interviews.
This initiative is part of a larger three-year project led by SCBC to encourage British Columbians to adopt stewardship practices aimed at reducing the impact of roaming cats on bird populations.
Learn more about our Cats and Birds work on our program page.