Feral cats kill 480 million birds in US every year - Responsible for 33 extinctions
GROWING PROBLEM: There are now more than 60 million feral cats in the US. Picture: Gaëtan Priour
480 million birds killed by feral cats each year
December 2010: A new report has put the annual economic loss from feral cat predation on birds in the US at a alleged $17 billion (Some of the maths involed in this figure are interesting, to say the least).
The report, Feral Cats And Their Management, analyses existing research on management of the burgeoning feral cat population - over 60 million and counting - in the United States, including the controversial practice of Trap, Neuter, Release (TNR).
Trap, Neuter & Release doesn't work
‘This report is a must read for any community or government official thinking about what to do about feral cats. It encapsulates the extensive research on this subject and draws conclusions based on that data. Not surprisingly, the report validates everything the American Bird Conservancy (ABC) has been saying about the feral cat issue for many years, namely TNR doesn't work in controlling feral cat populations,' said Darin Schroeder, Vice President for Conservation Advocacy for American Bird Conservancy, US's leading bird conservation organisation.
'These animals live short, miserable lives'
‘Communities seeking a solution to their feral cat problems need to consider the science on the issue and the well being of animals impacted by feral cats as well as the cats themselves. These other animals - birds especially - don't deserve to die at the hands of a predator introduced into their environment by irresponsible pet owners.
‘A humane decision-making process on this issue must also recognise that feral cats live short, miserable lives because of disease, other predators, severe weather and traffic hazards. Their life expectancy is about one third as long as owned cats,' Schroeder added.
More than 30 bird species have been wiped out
A key finding of the report was the statement by the authors that they do not recommend the TNR method to eliminate colonies of feral cats. In their extensive research, they were unable to find a single real-world example of TNR succeeding in eliminating a feral cat colony.
Some of the many findings of the report include:
- Feral cats are invasive and pose a threat to native fauna and public health.
- Three separate studies showed that most feral cats (62 to 80 per cent) carry the parasite responsible for toxoplasmosis - a condition of special concern to pregnant women.
- Cats are responsible for the extinction of at least 33 species of birds.
- Feral cats kill an estimated 480 million birds in the US each year.
- Feeding feral cats encourages them to congregate which encourages the chances of diseases being transmitted.
- The supplemental feeding of feral cats should be prohibited.
- Cats will kill wildlife no matter how well they are fed.