Homer Alaska - Opinion

Story last updated at 7:44 PM on Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Do you know where your dogs and cats are?

It's that time of year again to reign in our roaming pets: The birds are nesting (many of them on the ground), the moose are soon calving, all wild creatures are trying to raise their young through the dangers that are lurking around.

Just yesterday, two dogs (wearing collars and tags — one blackish beagle type, one short brown dog) came running and snuffling through my yard in hot pursuit of a bunny rabbit, just a few feet from where a fox sparrow was building its nest on the ground, and a pheasant was eating corn, before it flew off with alarm.

The sand hill cranes that land here are regularly chased off by roaming dogs; they do not like to nest where their babies might get killed.

In winter dog tracks — big and small ones, were easy to see in the snow, every morning there was a new set of them running along the beach, or across the fields, through the barnyard, or under the trees. Whose dogs are these anyway?

So I decided to follow those dogs as they loped off across the fields, through the woods, across a ravine and over the highway and up a long driveway over a mile away — in hopes of finding their owners, but I could not keep up with them.

Do their owners realize their dogs could run at least five miles an hour, and in just 15 minutes, could easily cover three miles of neighborhood, trespassing on others' property, disturbing wildlife and killing wild things, which is against state law and authorizes someone to shoot them?

Do they realize that a car could hit them while crossing the road (endangering the driver as well) or an irate mama moose could kick them to death? When your doggy comes home out of the bushes after you have let it out for its morning run, and it jumps up and wags its tail so happily as you let it in the house, do you know where your doggy has been all this time? Do you know it was in my yard chasing pheasants or killing baby animals or eating bird eggs?

Do you know where your cat has been all day — prowling in a neighbor's yard perhaps, or catching birds that flew thousands of miles just to get here?

It is enough that nature intended for wild things to eat each other out of necessity, but our pets are not part of the natural equation, they are an invasive species, trespassing and upsetting nature's balance.

I have had dogs all my life and dogs will be dogs. It's the owners that need to be responsible.

Please everyone, be respectful of nature and its babies, and of your neighbors' property, especially at this crucial time of year. Tie up your dog or take it out on a leash.

Know where it is at all times. Even a few feet from your own house it could be devouring bird eggs or harassing a moose without your knowing.

Keep your cat indoors during May and June, because even the fledglings of tree nesting birds end up on the ground for days before they can fly.

There are few things more heartbreaking than seeing a dog or cat running through the bushes with a helpless baby animal in its mouth.

Mossy Kilcher is a lifelong Homer resident and birder.