Longreads

Pete Marra, head of the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center, is pushing a controversial conservation idea: as the single-biggest man-made danger to bird and small mammal populations in the United States, outdoor and feral cat populations should be controlled, either by keeping pets inside or by euthanasia and sterilize-and-return programs. Rachel E. Gross tells his story at Smithsonian Magazine.

Marra tells the story of Tibbles the cat, who traveled with her owner to an untouched island south of New Zealand in 1894. There, she single-pawedly caused the extinction of the Stephens Island wren, a small, flightless bird found only in that part of the world. Most cats aren’t as deadly as Tibbles, but your average outdoor pet cat still kills around two animals per week, according to the Wildlife Society and the American Bird Conservancy. The solution for these cats is simple, says Marra: Bring them indoors. The Humane…

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