Sunday, February 11, 2007

The Effects of Free-ranging Cats on Birds in Wisconsin:

Studies in Wisconsin and elsewhere indicate that free-ranging domestic cats (Felis catus) pose a threat to birds and other wildlife.

In Wisconsin, concern about free-ranging cats was first highlighted in the mid 1990’s, when a study by Coleman and Temple attempted to study predation by free-ranging cats on birds in rural locations across the state. Extrapolating the results from this study indicated that millions of birds were being killed annually in Wisconsin by cats. Because of the difficulty in studying any species living outdoors across the entire state, the exact number of birds killed annually by free-ranging cats will never be fully enumerated. However, over the past decade additional studies in the Midwest and elsewhere have suggested similar problems with cat predation on birds and should alert us to the fact that free-ranging cats are killing large numbers of birds in Wisconsin each year. Moreover, other studies have shown that cats in some habitats may be directly competing with native avian predators, such as American Kestrels (Falco sparverius), Northern Harriers (Circus cyaneus) and Red-tailed Hawks (Buteo jamaicensis) for prey. Finally, in some habitats and locales even very low cat depredation could negatively impact the breeding success and survival of a species, especially if that species is rare or endangered.

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