Quantcast

Sierra Magazine: Explore, enjoy and protect the planet.
Printer-friendly version Share:  Share this page on FacebookShare this page on TwitterShare this page by emailShare this page with other services

GRAPPLE | WITH ISSUES AND IDEAS

Don't Sweat It, Mr. President! | Graphic: Small and Getting Smaller | Critter: Bat-Eating Spider |
Ten Legged Sea Cannibals |The Next Big Thing: Pee? | On the One Hand: Pets | Up to Speed

ON THE ONE HAND: PETS


Illustration by Peter and Maria Hoey

ON THE ONE HAND . . .

Soft, whiskered, and purring, your cat may not look like a ruthless killing machine. But a study from the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute indicates that more birds and small mammals die via Fluffy's claws than via cars, pesticides, poisons, colliding with windows, or any other human cause. The study found that cats kill between 1.4 and 3.7 billion birds each year, along with 6.9 to 20.7 billion mammals. While feral cats are responsible for the vast majority of the carnage, even well-fed house cats kill an average of 2.1 animals every week they are outside. Worst of all, cats seem to prefer killing native species over icky invaders like the Norway rat.

ON THE OTHER . . .

Dogs are worse. Catering to a medium-size dog's carnivorous instincts requires an ecological pawprint twice as large as it takes to build and fuel a large SUV. Worse, once Fido is sated, he has plenty of energy to chase birds, disrupt their nesting sites, exhaust them during migration stops, or kill them outright. A single dog killed more than half of the members of a New Zealand kiwi colony over the course of a few weeks, while five dogs destroyed Italy's largest flamingo colony in one day. And forget those long walks in the woods: A 2007 Australian study found that walking even leashed dogs in a park led to a 35 percent reduction in the number of bird species found there. —Dashka Slater


NEXT: Ten Legged Sea CannibalsUp to Speed



Sierra Club® and "Explore, enjoy and protect the planet"® are registered trademarks of the Sierra Club. © 2014 Sierra Club.
The Sierra Club Seal is a registered copyright, service mark, and trademark of the Sierra Club.