“Silent Spring” is an environmental science book written by Rachel Carson and originally published in 1962 as a warning to society about the effects of indiscriminate use of pesticides on birds.
60 years later, new human cost threats to birds have emerged that are totally unforeseen by Rachel Carson. Cumulatively, these threats are now impacting more wildlife than pesticides and all other factors combined. They are the common raven and the feral cat. Their populations are increasing. Both are extracting a heavy toll on native wildlife and humans are at fault.
Well, the increased raven predation has been detrimental to many desert species. The greater sage grouse and the threatened desert tortoise had been hit especially hard. Research also suggests that feral cats kill over 2.4 billion birds and over 12 billion small mammals in the United States per year.
Finding effective solutions to Raven and cat problems has been challenging. There, however, is wide scale agreement that common Raven management strategies must include proper waste disposal, and cleaning of landfills, as well as teaching humans about how their actions contribute to the problem.
Feral cat advocates say the dense numbers often threaten the welfare of the cats themselves. For many animal welfare advocates, the solution is trap neuter and return. Science can tell us how many animals ravens and cats kill per year. But the public must decide how the problem should be addressed.
At the heart of the bait is not a question of data, but a matter of principles and values. However, if humans fail to act, Americans may soon awaken to a new Silent Spring with ramification that even Rachel Carson herself could not have envisioned. And the solution may be more difficult than solving climate change. More information at wildaware.org.