Spring is in the air; make sure to keep kitty home

Published 8:31 am Friday, April 9, 2010

We have been lucky enough to have some pretty good weather this spring after the long winter we just left behind us. I have already made one visit to an area sporting goods store to buy some “necessary” fishing tackle.

With the mild weather we have been experiencing I am getting pretty “jacked up” about the upcoming fishing season. Some fishermen have been catching a few crappies in Edgewater Bay along Highway 13. The reports that I have heard say the fish aren’t huge but there are quite a few to be had. This seems to be the same type of fishing we used to have in the 70’s. We’d fish along Highway 13 by where the creek runs into the lake and would catch a lot of crappie but the “slabs” were few and far between.

Each year at about this time when the smell of spring is in the air I am reminded of the good days that lie ahead. Listening to the sound of birds chirping early in the morning is like the statement that we are starting fresh for another year. Even in the city there are enough wild critters to keep any outdoor enthusiast interested. Birds will soon be nesting and rabbits and squirrels are everywhere you look. Almost every one of us is close enough to a lake that you can hear the ducks and geese. While we are enjoying all the wonders of nature we have right in our own backyard there is one thing we should keep in mind. Springtime is when baby birds hatch and get their wings and baby squirrels and rabbits are just getting their legs. One of the biggest threats to these little creatures is the domestic cat. People who let their cats run loose during this time are probably not even aware of the damage that can be done by the friendly neighborhood feline. There have been times while working in the yard I have came upon a dead baby bird or rabbit that has been killed by something, usually a cat.

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Just the other day I was on an early morning walk around the neighborhood and came upon a dead bluebird lying in the middle of the sidewalk. That’s when I remembered seeing a stray cat or two frequenting the area. If you look out into your yard and wonder where the birds of spring have gone think you may want to think twice about letting “Fluffy” outside for a little prowl. This is the time of year to keep the pets inside.

The following is part of a news release the Minnesota DNR issued a few years back which bears repeating.

Resident birds and those returning to Minnesota from their southern wintering grounds will soon be ready to nest. In spring and early summer, birds, their eggs and hatchlings are vulnerable to becoming a meal for predators. One of America’s most efficient predators is the domestic cat, which if allowed outdoors might kill birds and small mammals, even if the cat is well fed by humans. Every year the lives of free-roaming cats are cut short when they are run over by cars, attacked by other animals, contract diseases, pick up parasites, or are poisoned or harmed by humans.

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a column about Lloyd Kaplan, a longtime trapper. He told me that the DNR encourages trappers to destroy any felines caught in traps in the wild because they are very harmful to the pheasant population. He told of one such cat that he released because it had a collar and he felt it was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Protect our wildlife and protect your cat; don’t let it run free. That way you can enjoy the best of both worlds — watching some of nature’s wildlife and cleaning out the litter box. It just doesn’t get any better than that!

In last week’s column I told of a group of sportsmen meeting with Representative Robin Brown. I want to make it clear that these sportsmen were not there just to voice complaints. They were there to voice concerns about the future of the outdoors in Minnesota. We need to do our part to make sure that our kids and grandkids have the same hunting and fishing opportunities that we had growing up in this great state.

Taking part in the annual “Take a Kid Fishing” event that the Fountain Lake Sportsmen’s Club and the DNR host every year is one way to start. I’ve talked to a lot of folks over the years that say they used to fish and hunt but are just too busy these days. We need to slow the pace a little and take the time to expose our youth to these sports now because they “ARE” the future of Minnesota’s outdoors.

Until next time “play safe, enjoy the outdoors and get that fish’n tackle ready.

Remember to keep those that are proudly serving our country in your thoughts and prayers.