PANEL: Keep Cats Safe & Save Bird Lives

SUNDAY, APRIL 9, 3:00-4:30PM

Edward Cheskey, Senior Conservation Manager, Bird Conservation Initiatives, Nature Canada
Sarah Cooper, Strategic Planning & Communications Consultant, Keep Cats Safe and Save Bird Lives Campaign, Nature Canada
Dr. Tyler Flockhart, Postdoctoral Research, Department of Integrative Biology, University of Guelph
Lisa Veit, Associate Director, Guelph Humane Society

Scientific research estimates that millions of birds fall victim to outdoor cats in Canada each year. While the knee-jerk response has often been to demonize cats, is that really where the blame should be laid?
The reality is that outdoor cats themselves face numerous perils. What if, instead of blaming cats, we could motivate and change the behaviours of cat owners to help both cats and birds? Nature Canada’s campaign, Keep Cats Safe and Save Bird Lives, was launched in 2016. In its Guelph pilot, Nature Canada teamed up with animal welfare, veterinary and nature conservation groups to make real progress on this issue.

Three Key Learnings:
1. Collaboration is the key
2. The importance of positive messaging
3. Empowering community members to participate

Panelists will present their constituency’s take on this explosive issue and explore how moving it from a battleground to the dinner table can change the narrative and make real progress.

As Senior Conservation Manager, Ted Cheskey leads Nature Canada’s bird conservation initiatives including the “Keep Cats Safe and Save Bird Lives” program to reduce human-related bird mortality, recover threatened species and keep common birds common. Ted has more than 35 year of practical experience studying, monitoring and conserving birds. He is a founding board member and the current President of the Bruce Peninsula Bird Observatory and has travelled widely in the Americas in search of birds that connect Canada to other countries.

Sarah Cooper is a communications and marketing professional with more than 20 years of project management, non-profit, strategic planning and digital engagement experience. Once upon a time, she was Margaret Atwood's Executive Assistant, where she perfected the fine art of being the spider at the centre of the web. A passionate animal lover, Sarah now puts those skills to work on behalf of cats and birds.

Dr. Tyler Flockhart is a population ecologist and conservation biologist interested in understanding the factors that influence changes in animal populations and applying decision-theory to design optimal management strategies for species of concern in the face of global change. In the field he has worked on understanding the behaviour of feral cats, the abundance and distribution of both free-roaming cats and birds in cities, and developing techniques to measure the impacts of cats on birds. He is working on developing evidence-based population models for cats and birds to make optimal decisions to both improve cat welfare and reduce the impacts of outdoor cats on birds. He often watches birds through his window with his cat Stitch.

Over the past two decades, Lisa Veit has worked in various aspects of animal care, animal welfare, and wildlife conservation. She has experience in diverse issues affecting companion animals, captive and free-ranging wildlife, and species-at-risk. Her roles have focused on management, leadership, and program development with animal welfare organizations at the local and provincial level, as well as Ontario Vet College and Ministry of Natural Resources. She is currently the Associate Director of the Guelph Humane Society.