Science

AUDIO: Cats or birds? Taking sides

CBC Radio's The Current explores the brewing battle between cat lovers and people trying to protect birds as a rise in cat numbers puts North American bird populations at risk.

LISTEN TO THE AUDIO INTERVIEW by clicking the play button on the photo below, or visit The Current's website to hear Anna Maria Tremonti's interview with Maureen Palmer, director of the documentary, Cat Crazed.

An estimated 100 million cats roam North America, according to a new television documentary that suggests these felines are putting bird populations at risk, fostering sometimes heated disputes between "cat and bird people." 

In fact, bird groups estimate cats kill one billion birds every year, says Maureen Palmer, director of the documentary, Cat Crazed, which airs Thursday night on The Doc Zone on CBC Television. That's especially troubling given that many bird populations are already substantially reduced due to climate change and deforestation.

Palmer's documentary explores the battleground created by the increased popularity of cats as pets among aging singles, and the rise in baby boomers taking an interest in birding.

She visits Rithet's Bog in Victoria, which illustrates the dispute in microcosm. The bog is a wildlife area and a rich nesting place for songbirds. But on its edge, a number of feral cat colonies have sprung up. Some area residents are feeding them, while others are taking aim at them with slingshots.

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