COLUMBIA’S BIRDS NEED YOUR HELP
Formal Request: A CALL TO ACTION FOR BC MAYORS, COUNCILLORS AND
For well over a century, BC’s birds have faced an increasing number of
threats to their survival. Challenges include loss of habitat due to
agriculture, logging, residential and commercial development,
pesticide use, hunting, disease, the introduction of invasive species,
and predation by domestic and feral cats, as well as some dogs.
As the State of the World’s Birds 2010 report recently identified
numerous species in trouble, officially adding climate change to the
list of threats, it’s clear the ominous prediction by Canadian
naturalist Trevor Herriot may be coming true. We are destroying our bird
populations, and their epitaph will read: “Death by Too Many Cuts.”
Over 300 species of birds breed each year in BC - more than any other
province in Canada. Sixty-five species breed nowhere else in Canada and
for several species, BC holds the majority of the world population.
Situated along the Pacific Flyway that extends from Patagonia to Alaska,
our province is also one of the world’s top birding destinations.
For these reasons, every municipality plays a pivotal role in bird
conservation efforts. As stewards of local environments, urban and
rural, you must do your part to help our birds safely feed, nest and
raise their young. It’s a responsibility municipalities can’t turn away
from or rely on others to manage. Every year, millions of BC’s birds are
needlessly killed. This means every municipality has the ability—
independently and collectively—to make a significant difference.
What Municipalities Can Do – Immediate Priorities
1. Update Animal Control Bylaws and Adopt Cat Licensing: It’s
spring 2010 and almost every municipality in BC is facing the impacts of
cat overpopulation, both domestic and feral. Current strategies, saddled
by archaic animal control bylaws, are not working. The reason: Current
bylaws do not address the root cause of the problem—Irresponsible Cat
Owners. As a result, BC’s breeding birds and their valuable fledglings
will again face killing fields in every municipality. With over 2
million domestic and feral cats in BC, most allowed free-roam, predation
rates are out of control. To make matters worse, this “cut” to BC’s
birds is entirely preventable. A few municipalities have made
progressive changes. Most, however, still stuck in the past on this
issue, continue to do nothing. ACTIONS REQUESTED: Upgrade animal control
bylaws to include progressive controls on free-roaming cats, spay-neuter
requirements, public education and cat licensing as part of a
Responsible Cat Ownership Program in BC.
Established cat licensing programs currently exist in Calgary, Edmonton,
Regina, Saskatoon, Toronto and Ottawa, to name a few.
2. Say “NO” to the controversial practice of TNR or
trap-neuter-return as a feral population control strategy. A select
group of feral cat activists have been hard-selling municipal staff and
politicians with inflated claims, emotional pleas and pseudo-science.
Real scientists have weighed in on TNR. It’s bad for cats, bad for
birds, and a potential disaster for the environment and public health.
TNR also creates a liability and municipalities are unprepared for the
consequences. Please see attachments.
3. Update Bylaws for Pesticide Use: The Community Charter gives local
governments the ability to make pesticide by-laws that prohibit their
use for the purpose of maintaining landscapes on residential or
municipal land. The environmental concerns are soil, water, or air
pollution and damage to non-target organisms including plants, birds,
wildlife, fish, crops, and of course – people. The main causes of this
harmful pollution are inappropriate application, spray or vapour drift,
spills, backflow, and improper disposal of chemicals or containers. By
creating progressive bylaws governing pesticide use and following safe
practices, every municipality in BC can make a difference.
What Municipalities Can Do – Ongoing and Long-term
1. As residential and commercial developments are proposed and
planned, ensure an environmental review is completed, and consult with
local and provincial conservationists and experts.
2. Step-up Public Education – Environmentally, many citizens are way
ahead of you, some are well behind. For both groups, offer leadership
and direction that will build a green municipality.
3. Set goals for Environmental Stewardship, Responsible Pet Ownership
and Community Conservation. Get creative, win awards or simply reap the
benefits of a healthy and progressive municipality that takes care of
its people and its birds.
Established cat licensing
programs currently exist in Calgary, Edmonton, Regina, Saskatoon,
Toronto and Ottawa, to name a few.