Keep songbirds and our trees safe from their natural enemies

Published 12:00 pm Thursday, March 17, 2016

I have two matters that I address to your readers: first is the issue of feral cats in Oxford. The Smithsonian Institute estimates that each year feral cats kill between 1.4 and 3.7 billion birds in the United States, the vast majority of them songbirds. In Oxford it is beyond question that we have a feral cat problem. So the question is how do we deal with the feral cat population, which is, at present, by capture, spay and neuter, then release back into the wild.

Although this program does — or at least, should — diminish or maintain the feral cat population, reality suggests that there are so many feral cats, and so few neuter procedures, as to render that process ineffective. Moreover, releasing those cunning and vicious animals back into the wild exacerbates the slaughter of our songbirds. So what, you might ask, do I recommend? I love domestic cats as much as the next person, but I recommend that we trap and humanely euthanize feral cats. Only an aggressive capture and euthanasia program can ameliorate the slaughter of our songbirds.

The second issue is that of ivy in trees. Ivy, although to some it may be attractive when growing into trees, is a silent killer. An arboreal cancer, it is kudzu on a smaller scale. I see ivy in trees all over town, and I mourn the inevitable deaths of our great hardwoods that are assaulted by this green killer that will strangle and then asphyxiate our old hardwoods. The solution is to kill the ivy, and then, after it is dead, to pull it off and out of the trees. So how do you kill it? Go to the base of the tree where the ivy enters the ground, and then, working around the base of the tree, cut it. The ivy in and on the tree will then die, and after it is brown, you can easily pull it off the trunk.

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Please help Oxford save its trees and the songbirds that inhabit them.

Al Povall