Nature Canada is pleased to announce that the Stewardship Centre for BC (SCBC) has won Nature Canada’s 2017 Conservation Partner Award.
The award recognizes the conservation efforts of a Nature Canada partner whose work has significantly contributed to the cause of conservation in Canada. In this case, it was awarded to SCBC for its tireless work towards Keeping Cats Safe and Saving Bird Lives.
SCBC’s research into municipalities has helped our coalition better understand the issue in BC Its strong resources for municipalities has greatly helped our cause, not only in BC, but across the country. SCBC has also helped the Cats and Birds program by bringing other provincial partners into the fold, and actively engaging on social media.
Overview of SCBC’s work on Cats and Birds:
Survey on attitudes and opinions
While the impact of domestic and feral cats on the mortality of birds has been documented, there are few studies in Canada examining public attitudes towards free-roaming cats.
Last winter, the Stewardship Centre for British Columbia (SCBC) worked with UBC Environmental Science students to develop a public online survey and a targeted telephone survey to better understand perceptions surrounding free-roaming domestic cats.
A major finding of the survey was that two-thirds of British Columbian cat-owners feel it is appropriate or somewhat appropriate to allow cats to be outside unsupervised. SCBC’s future education and outreach will work on changing these attitudes. The full survey report will be available soon.
SCBC work with municipalities
The targeted phone interviews with local governments and animal welfare organizations collected information on current policies, practices and bylaws in place in their communities. This work revealed that few municipalities had effective no-roam bylaws.
SCBC is currently arranging partnerships with some local municipalities on cat and bird educational campaigns as a first step in securing changes at the local level.
Additionally, two documents that SCBC created, Briefing Note for Local Governments and Recommended Policy and Bylaws documents, were updated last year by Nature Canada, to address a national audience, and distributed across the country.
One very successful information piece for cat owners has been the educational “Happy Cat” brochure, first developed by SCBC in 2015. Last spring, the brochure was updated and now includes information on cats’ impact on vulnerable bat populations.
SCBC also has a more detailed Stewardship Practices guide “Reducing the Impact of Cats on Birds and Wildlife (2016).”