Pets and Birds

Black Phoebe
Black Phoebe
Spring is here. I pulled my bike out of storage today and have been enjoying the freedom of that transportation – so much more fun, faster than walking and sometimes even faster than traveling by car and then finding a place to park.

The birds are returning too and mornings are filled with bird songs. I recognize only a few right now, but even so it’s like having old friends call to you from across the street. I imagine that knowing bird songs is like knowing a secret language – that if you knew how to listen you could learn all kinds of things about the world around you even with your eyes closed. I wouldn’t classify myself as a birder or anything, but I really do like those little guys. That’s why this announcement to locals within the park caught my eye.

KEEP YOUR CAT INDOORS OR ON-LEASH. Birds are singing and the nesting
season is almost here. Give the birds and other baby wildlife a chance by
keeping your cat indoors or monitored closely on a leash at all times. A
conservative estimate is that free ranging house cats kill 4.4 million
birds each day or 1.6 billion birds each year in the United States alone.
Every free-roaming cat in the park is responsible for killing an estimated
14 wild animals each year due to negligent cat owners. Please do your part
to be a good steward and abide by park policy (36CFR2.15 Pets, Housing
Policy, and Superintendent’s Compendium). Report descriptions and
locations of free-roaming cats to Wildlife Management. (N.
Nicholas – 3/31/09)

Having pets is hard in Yosemite. Because the wildlife really has to come first here inside the Park, there are a lot of rules about where you can and can’t take your pets They aren’t allowed off fully paved surfaces, must have a leash 6 ft. or shorter, and must be attended at all times. There is a good reason for that, because your pet, when left to run free, becomes part of the Yosemite food chain. That means they may be responsible for the death of native wildlife, which is bad, and also that they may be lunch for a larger predator like the coyotes, also bad.

Tom and I have talked a number of times about how wonderful it would be to have a dog. In some ways, with Tom working from home, it would be a great life for a dog – not having to be cooped up by itself while we are both at work. But Yosemite is a place for wildlife first, so we’re holding off. I’ll just have to content myself with the birds, the little Chickarees (my favorite animals in the park), the bears, the mule deer, and the coyotes instead. Eh – not such a bad trade-off as all that.