Animal associations

Focus on cats rather than game shooting to reduce animal mortality, RSPB has urged

“There is a stark contrast between the RSPB’s interest in shooting and its concern for cats,” Mr Bonner said.

“A few years ago, it devoted nearly all of its annual general meeting to announcing a review of its game shooting policy. Subsequently, it conducted an extensive literature review, consultation with stakeholders and produced a new, albeit predictable, policy calling for government intervention in many areas of the shooter.

“Whether this is justified is not really the question. The challenge for the RSPB is to explain why hunting management, which it accepts” can have significant benefits for wildlife, for example by providing habitat that may benefit species other than game birds “is worthy of such scrutiny, while the slaughter of hundreds of millions of wild animals by cats is not.”

The RSPB said that despite large numbers of birds being killed by domestic cats, there is “no clear scientific evidence that such mortality is causing bird populations to decline” and millions of birds are dying naturally each year by starvation, disease and other forms of predation.

Mr Bonner argued the charity should commission research to get to the bottom of it.

“Way too worried about upsetting his belonging to a cat”

“It could use its AGM to announce a study and consult its members and other stakeholders on their attitudes towards cat ownership and the impact of cats on the environment and biodiversity. It could review its policy and call for government intervention to reduce cat numbers and minimize their impact on wildlife,” he said.

“Of course he won’t do any of that, as he’s far too worried about upsetting his cat-owning members. This approach may protect RSPB’s revenue, but it doesn’t protect its reputation. An organization that will bow to a few activists and attack the shots, but refusing to even contemplate the impact of our feline killing grounds is wide open to the charge of hypocrisy.”

An RSPB spokesperson said: “The latest scientific evidence from the Mammal Society shows that cats can kill up to 27 million birds each year in the UK. However, there is also evidence that cats tend to take weak or sick garden birds.

“It’s likely that most birds killed by cats would have died of other causes anyway before the next breeding season, so cats are unlikely to have a major impact on populations.”