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Bird and Habitat Conservation

Q. I have had a neighborhood cat killing the birds in my backyard. What can I do?

If you are a regular reader, you know we talk about this issue from time to time. It seems that this winter, we have really received a lot of call about cats. I am a firm believer in keeping cats indoors. There isn't enough space here to go into details but let’s just say it is better for the cats and far better for birds. If you have a free roaming cat, I encourage you to talk to the owner or call animal control. In most municipalities there are leash laws that apply to cats (though rarely enforced).

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Q. Why haven’t I seen any monarch butterflies this summer?

It is a truly disturbing situation for the monarchs. I don’t think anyone can say for sure but their numbers are plummeting. Some of the leading factors that experts are pointing to are: 1) continued loss of habitat on their winter grounds in Mexico 2) Severe drought over hundreds of miles of their migration route in the U.S. and Mexico 3) Loss of their larval (caterpillar) host plants to “modern” agriculture practices. This include the loss of thousands of acres of CRP land that is being now planted in corn for ethanol production.

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Q. Were there more Bald Eagles around than normal this winter?

The short answer is yes. Bald Eagle populations in our state are doing quite well. According to the Missouri Department of Conservation, surveys conducted just a couple of winters ago estimated our “summer population” of Bald Eagles in MO at about 600 birds. Our “winter populaton” blooms to about 3,500 birds statewide. We have had reports this winter from pretty much all local lakes, major rivers, small streams and even farm fields. Ruth added it as a new “yard bird” as she watched one fly over her house in downtown Lee’s Summit!

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