Pet cats should be banned from going outside to stop them from killing birds, the Conservation Officer for the Royal Parks in London has said.
Tony Duckett, who has been in charge of Regent Park’s rare birds since 1978, has said that cats are the cause of many avian deaths.
In response to BBC presenter Chris Packham’s successful campaign against general shooting licences, which allow farmers to kill birds causing damage to their animals and crops, Suffolk farmers Brian and Patrick Barker said pet cats are far more of a threat to bird life.
They said the revocation of the general licences was a “shameful state of affairs”, adding: “Getting rather fed up with all this General Licence stuff so I’m going to suggest one more! GenLic 101: required if you want to keep a domestic cat.
“It must be kept inside at all times and not left to roam free as they do more silent damage than corvids do to all bird populations.”
Mr Duckett replied: “I agree, these so-called pets shouldn’t be allowed to roam freely, s—ting in other people’s gardens, killing birds or just putting them off. The owners have no right spoiling other people’s enjoyment. I’d love to take their s— back and scatter it over their owners garden.
“It’s so wrong. The law again fails to defend the the home owner. As well as killing millions of birds they have brought the Scottish Wildcat to the edge of extinction.”
The Mammal Society estimates cats in the UK kill 27 million birds a year, with the most common being house sparrows, blue tits, blackbirds and starlings.
Battersea Dogs and Cats Home dismissed the bird officer’s suggestion. A spokesperson explained: “Cats are naturally independent and territorial animals that enjoy exploring their surroundings and marking an area as their own. Outdoor access provides great opportunities to display natural, normal feline behaviours including roaming and hunting to help stimulate and engage cats and support their emotional and physical wellbeing.”
“Battersea will always seek to rehome a cat to somewhere with outdoor access so that the cat can get the benefits of both worlds – indoor home comforts as well as outdoor adventures.”
This comes as the UK’s leading countryside organisations call on Michael Gove to “take control” of Natural England and stop the general licence chaos, after farmers were only given two days’ notice of the legal challenge.
The National Farmers’ Union, Countryside Alliance, National Gamekeepers’ Association, Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust and British Association of Shooting and Conservation have penned a joint letter to the environment secretary, urging him to act.
They write: “This sudden legal challenge has caused enormous problems and concern for everyone reliant on the General Licences, and their withdrawal has come at the worst possible time of year, when lambs, young crops and nesting birds, including declining species such as the curlew and lapwing, are all in most need of protection from marauding ‘pest’ birds.
“People have been left without a legal means to control problem bids…it has been a disastrous episode, appalingly mismanaged by Natural England.
“As Secretary of State, you are asked to use your influence to use your influence to ensure in future, Natural England consults us so the current disaster is never repeated. This needs to start immediately.
“You are asked to undertake a full investigation as to who made what decision, when and why. Your Department needs to determine what changes may be necessary going forward, to ensure this sort of disaster is never repeated.”
The Chief Executive of the British Association of Shooting and Conservation, Ian Bell, said: “The rural organisations have united to tell the Secretary of State that this fiasco is simply unacceptable. The shooting and farming community has been failed and Mr Gove has to step in to take decisive action.”
Defra and the Royal Parks have been contacted for comment.