Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Wild Flush

Humm, took a half hour out of my morning to try and get a grouse. I need to remind myself to get up a little closer to early morning because by the time I was on the hunting ground the sun way high and the birds were not going to sit for Cookie. The net result was zero shots although I saw several birds. I may try again in the morning.

While Chas and I were hunting we had a very brief conversation about hunting upland birds in the evening. It is a good time to hunt but there is a problem and that is that often times the birds are settled in to their roost for the night and when we hunt them in that last thirty or forty minutes of shooting light we are pushing them off their roost. Of course, I am only talking about the ground nesting birds so it does not apply to the pass shooting at dove and pigeon but should we hunt the ground nesting and ground roosting birds so late in the day? On the one hand I am very tempted to say that we shouldn't but I also must admit that I enjoy that last hour of the day as a time to hunt birds. It is a quiet time and nature is taking a deep breath after a long day.

Thinking about ground nesting birds brings up something else to consider--domestic cats gone feral. The problem of feral cats is a real one and around here it is becoming increasingly difficult to drive the back roads and not see at least one feral cat. Now, don't misunderstand me, I've got a black and white cat sitting in my lap as I write this, but there is a problem and that is too many cats! These feral cats are decimating some of the game bird populations. We've been trying to get a huntable partridge population on my wife's family farm but the cats keep knocking the covey down to only a few surviving birds and the birds then struggle to survive and rebuild the covey. We've finally told Michael (my step-son) to go ahead kill any cat he sees on the farm. It's not fair to the cats but there isn't any other way to deal with the problem. Even if we manage to live trap one of the feral cats they are beyond adoption and the only course open is to destroy the cat.

Many years ago, when I first began exploring and writing about the myths of organizations such as PETA, Fund For Animals, HSUS (there are many more), I decided that pet ownership is too easy in this country. I didn't reach the decision to support their flawed arguments but because these organizations have manipulated and hijacked the easy access to pet ownership to fit their agendas. Perhaps if people had to put a little more effort into becoming pet owners and keeping those pets they would be a little more reluctant to drop their unwanted pet off on a country road. That is probably fairy tale thinking on my part but it is still something to think about. glg


Albert A Rasch said...

It is a very real problem throughout the US. Coyotes do a credible job of keeping feral cats in check, but it really is a problem with people's attitudes.

There are no easy solutions either. Catching or trapping them is difficult, neutering them is expensive, and the toll they exact on songbirds and ground nesting birds makes them a menace.

Shooting them is an unpleasant but necessary fact of life.

The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles
The Failure of PeTA's Moral Position

Galen Geer said...

Albert, I agree 100%. Maybe if some of those dimwits who believe turning their pets out in the countryside is better than the pound could see the results of their stupidity we'd win a little room.

Chas S. Clifton said...

Given the farm's location on a major secondary road, the cats there probably are indeed the descendants of dumped animals.

Galen Geer said...

Last night Michelle and I were driving home from Grand Forks and passed two feral cats on the road.
Waterfowl season is now open. Couldn't get out today but I should be out tomorrow. glg

Phillip Loughlin said...

Another pet peeve, thanks!

In the part of southeastern NC where I mostly grew up, I remember huge coveys of bobwhites when I was little. It was nothing on a summer day to whistle one or two up right out the front door.

The area grew quickly as more and more folks came chasing the cheap real estate and blossoming golf courses... and with them came cats. Today, it's a damned rare thing to hear a bobwhite, even in the more rural areas.

Oh, and we didn't have coyotes until just a few years ago... so we can't blame them.

I know folks love their cats, and love to see them "hunting" in their "natural state", but the damned things are a menace to native species with a demonstrated negative impact. They're not "natural" to this ecosystem... especially not in the numbers that pet owners have allowed them to attain.

It's not just feral cats either, as roaming housecats are every bit as bad.

Galen Geer said...

Cats are predators and so many people seem to forget that simple fact. I guess if a person spends years feeding their cats canned food they will forget the cat will gladly hunt and kill (although not always eat) whenever the opportunity presents itself. My cat is sitting on my desk watching TV while I work. She is an indoor cat and only allowed outside when I am outside and can keep a close eye on her. I wish others would do the same--don't you? glg