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Letter: Habitat destruction is biggest threat to wildlife

Habitat destruction is biggest threat to wildlife

I understand Gerry Rising’s concerns for wildlife, which is everywhere threatened, and every resource possible needs to be activated to protect it. As someone who participated for years in the annual Christmas bird count, I am witness to bird population decline.

However, when citing the domestic cat as a major threat to wildlife, particularly birds, Rising and others fail to cite the absence of some native predators, namely the bobcat, that have disappeared from the landscape, thanks to humans. Do domestic cats now occupy the niche once inhabited by other predators? Here on Grand Island, native predators include foxes, coyotes, owls and hawks, all of which will take domestic cats in addition to their preferred prey. Many places, though, lack predators, which can result in “nuisance wildlife,” i.e. overpopulation. The absence of wolves has contributed to the mushrooming deer population, which causes enormous agricultural losses, not to mention collisions with automobiles.

The biggest threat to wildlife is habitat destruction, and guess who’s responsible for that? The TNVR (trap, neuter, vaccinate, release) strategy is currently the best option for controlling the population of feral and community cats, whose only “crime” has been in being born. The solution is for humans to spay and neuter their pets. As an SPCA volunteer who works exclusively with cats, I can say that the suffering endured by abandoned, homeless and neglected cats isn’t the only suffering humans are capable of inflicting upon them. If Rising doesn’t want cats to be free roaming, someone is going to have to pay for land, fencing, caretaking staff, food, other supplies and veterinary services similar to the way wildlife refuges are operated.

In the famous words from Pogo in the 1970s, “We have met the enemy, and he is us.”

Nancy Barnes

Grand Island