Crested larks mean some Germans have to keep their cats indoors through the summer. As we all should.
Crested larks are songbirds found in most of Europe and Asia, and in recent decades, their numbers have been in serious declined. As of 1993, they’re considered extirpated (no remaining individuals in a region they were once native to) in Sweden, Norway, Luxembourg, and Switzerland. In Germany, which falls right in the middle of those other countries, they are incredibly rare.
To complicate conservation, the crested larks nest on the ground, which makes them unfortunately easy prey to many things, most frequently house cats.
Outside the Southwest German town of Walldorf is one of the last nesting preserves in the country. Authorities in Walldorf believe that “among other things the survival of the species depends on every single chick.”
So they’ve taken a dramatic step, and given it the force of law. May through August for the next three years, all cat owners are required to keep their pets mewed up at home. The decree has caused some uproar. One in four German households has a cat, and only between 3 and 10% of those households keep their cats exclusively inside.
Outdoor cats are one of the most widespread invasive species in the world, and are responsible for a documented 63 extinctions, with many times that likely. One cat, the pet of a lighthouse keeper on an isolated island, and her feral kittens caused the complete extinction of the Lyall’s wren and the South Island piopio within three years of their identification.
Despite many cat owners’ apprehensions that their cat will be less happy or less healthy indoors, it is the only ethical choice. Nonetheless, the animal welfare association in Walldorf is intending to fight the decree in court.
Someone should remind them of the average lifespans of indoor and outdoor cats. An outdoor cat lives, on average, three years. An indoor cat lives thirteen. If they won’t do it for the birds, they should at least make the change for their beloved pets.