A couple of weeks ago I saw a startling bit of news that really shocked me. A report was published which stated how cats are starting to have a disturbing effect on our natural ecological systems. It was estimated that our feline friends kill 1.4 billion and 3.7 billion birds just in the United States. That was an astounding number to me. But, it went on to say that world-wide the problem was even worse. World-wide cats kill an estimated 6.9 billion and 20.7 billion small mammals, such as meadow voles and chipmunks, each year. That is just in one year, astoundingly enough. Things have gotten so bad in New Zealand that the government is trying to get rid of cats or, at the very least, make the owners keep them indoors. In the United States, those deaths represent about 15% of the total bird population. Each house cat is thought to have killed between four and 18 birds a year, and between eight and 21 small mammals per year. But, before we start heaping all the blame on cats, dogs have now been brought forth for their "crimes" as well.
Another report stipulates that dogs pose an equally or even, in some cases, a worse effect on eco-systems. The report talks about how one single German Shepard (and I dearly love this breed) in New Zealand's Waitangi State Forest, was responsible for killing up to 500 kiwis. The dog had a collar, but was unregistered, and its owner was not found. Amazing. But, most of the problems that dogs pose for humans is disease according to the researchers of this report. Dogs are responsible for an estimated 55,000 human rabies deaths world-wide. Dogs are also responsible for passing on rabies to other species in Africa. Despite the health risks, very few people are willing to offer solutions for conservation issues as a result of dogs. Researchers say that the general public is reluctant to eradicate dogs due to the historic nature of the Human-Canine relationship. Dogs are thought to pay their own way by guarding property and herds of cattle. So, very little or no chance of any change in whatever problems dogs may cause humans or the eco-systems world-wide.
I'm still a bit shocked over the cat statistics. That just doesn't seem possible. They neglect to include the positives of cats who kill untold number of disease carrying rodents each year. I never considered dogs but nothing more than a positive influence in our daily lives. I still think dogs and cats are a good influence despite whatever scientific evidence may show to the contrary. Dogs and cats have their own place in our daily lives. I don't see that ever changing, especially in my life. I admit my beagle, Ralph, has killed more than his share of squirrels and birds in my yard. But, that is his territorial instinct kicking in to do this. Ralph is just being what he is; my faithful companion. I plan on keeping my little buddy around despite what some obscure scientists say.