Thursday, February 15, 2007

Cats and Wildlife: A Deadly Combination

Free-roaming domestic cats in the United States annually kill hundreds of millions of birds and three times as much small wildlife (mammals, reptiles, and amphibians).
Despite the volume of cat-related wildlife injuries and deaths, many people argue that this is “natural.” This is not so. Most cat “prey” consists of native species; while cats are an introduced species. According to the American Bird Conservancy, “Wildlife in the Western Hemisphere did not evolve in the presence of a small, abundant predator like the domestic cat, and thus, did not develop defenses against [it].”
A recent study also shows that cats are contributing to increases in the insect population by killing insect-eating birds. The problem is further compounded because as wilderness areas continue to decline, birds and other animals are seeking backyards, parks, and gardens as resting places and sources of food and water.
Ground nesting, feeding, nestling, and fledgling birds particularly are at risk. Cats also kill small native mammals that other native species, such as hawks and kestrels, rely on for food. Further, cats are not conservationists, and their prey can include endangered species.

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