Ms. Stubenbord, in Walldorf in the Rhein-Neckar district, cats are no longer allowed to roam freely in nature in the southern part of the city until the end of August.

Why?

David Lindenfeld

volunteer.

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There are crested larks, a species of bird that is threatened with extinction.

Apparently, this was only noticed after the area there had been built on.

A general decree from the district office now stipulates that the cats are no longer allowed to run free from April to the end of August in the area where the crested larks breed.

Since they are ground breeders, the nature conservation authority sees a particular threat from the cats.

The concern is that crested larks will continue to deplete while they raise their young.

Do you understand the approach of the district office, which wants to protect the endangered bird species?

The general decree weighs in a certain way dutifully between nature conservation law and animal welfare law.

It has to be, because both are equal areas of law.

But I think this measure is very stressful for the cats.

If they're used to being out every day, that's a massive limitation.

You can't totally limit this freewheeling from one day to the next.

Especially not for this long.

I think if you balance the interests of larks and cats, or conservation versus animal welfare, a shorter period would be reasonable - three or four weeks, for example, while the young are being raised by their parents and are particularly vulnerable.

Until then, you could leave the cats inside.

But locked up for four months: The animals suffer massively from this.

There are suggestions as to how the suffering might be counteracted...

The alternatives suggested for cat owners are simply not practical.

Paying for cat boarding for four months is expensive.

In order to get cats used to being walked on a leash, they need training.

This can not be done overnight.

And of course, that doesn't replace a cat's freedom: many only go outside to the litter box.

They linger, play and occupy themselves outside - and of course also hunt outside.

Some only come into the house to eat and sleep.

You can't replace that by walking around the street or in the garden with a cat on a leash.

The district office says it depends on "the survival of each individual young bird".

Isn't there no alternative to the decision?

There is always a high rate of loss of young birds.

By the weather or predators, for example.

In the end, it's not the cat's fault, it's the people's fault.

Cultivation and agricultural policies with their monocultures and pesticides are the reason why many animal species are extinct or threatened with extinction.

It's not always the fox, the crow, or the cat.

They may be the ones who catch the last bird.

It's the fault of the people who build up the landscape.

You can see that in this case too: an area that was previously a home for birds and other animals was built on.

Now there are houses and a road.

The extent of the impact cats have on bird populations is a subject of constant debate.

The Nature Conservation Union also says that the crested lark has largely died out in our country and is not due to the domestic cat - but it is an additional negative factor.

It's always easy to say that the cats are to blame.

But what you shouldn't forget: cats are specialists.

Some never catch a bird, some catch birds, some only catch mice, some lizards.

It's not like cats always catch birds per se.

In the gardens of residential areas, there is often a high density of songbirds.

Rough estimates are that 200 million birds are killed each year, the Nature Conservation Union writes on its website.

Don't birds in Germany just have too small a lobby?

No, I don't think so.

This can also be seen in the bird censuses of the Nature Conservation Union, which are very popular.

Many now feed the birds all year round.

I've noticed time and again that there are now species in the city that I've never seen before: the goldfinch, for example.

In the cities we now have a high density of songbirds.

Biodiversity in the city has increased.

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