May 6, 2016 8:49 pm
Updated: May 6, 2016 9:46 pm

Lack of bylaws for cats in Lethbridge causing havoc for birds

WATCH ABOVE: A lack of bylaws for cats in Lethbridge is causing havoc for birds. Environment Canada estimates pet cats kill 80 million birds a year. Katelyn Wilson has the story.

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The sounds of birds chirping means summer’s in the air.

But many of Canada’s birds are in trouble, and according to Nature Alberta, some have declined by 90 per cent.

At the heart of the issue cats—in fact animal services say cats are the No. 1 killer of urban wildlife and a lack of bylaws in Lethbridge makes matters worse.

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“Cats that do roam free within urban communities do put quite a large strain on urban wildlife including birds, raccoons, skunks and smaller animals like mice,” Animal Services peace officer Skylar Plourde said.

Not only are cats allowed to roam free but licensing is voluntary.

“In 2015, we dealt with 488 cats and less than half were claimed by an owner, the rest were put through the adoption program,” Plourde said.

With the warm weather approaching, birds will soon start having their young.

“During that time those fledgling birds spend a great deal of time on the ground and it’s at that point that they are the most at risk for mortality from cats,” said Coreen Putman, manager of the Helen Schuler Nature Centre.

Putman also said responsible pet ownership has a role to play.

“We try to talk to people about talking to their neighbours and really getting that dialogue going that the cats and pets do have an impact on wild bird populations.”

Between 2001-2014 the official list of bird species at risk increased from 47 to 86, according to catsandbirds.ca.

This has caused some municipalities across Canada to take action and adopt bylaws for cats.

In Calgary,this includes mandatory licensing fees, no free roam, a subsidized spay and neuter program, the promise to return escaped cats and a public awareness campaign.

But in Lethbridge this simply isn’t the case and cats continue to roam free.

“The living aspect of our community is wildlife so how can we think about living our lives and getting our needs and wants met but ensuring that we are thinking about the wildlife as well,” Putman said

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