Thursday, June 21, 2007

Birds need help from cat owners

This writer knows how cats are!
As related last week, domestic and feral cats are a huge threat to wildlife species, even in urban and suburban areas.
While loss of habitat and fragmentation due to human development is the leading cause of declining bird populations, The American Bird Conservancy states that invasive species including cats are the second most serious threat to bird numbers worldwide.
A study in Wichita, Kansas found 83 percent of the 41 study cats in an urban area killed birds, despite owners often not being aware of the predation. In fact, a de-clawed cat killed more animals than any other cat in the study.
A four-year Wisconsin study estimated that rural, free-roaming cats kill at least 7.8 million birds (and perhaps as many as 217 million) birds a year in that state. Suburban and urban felines would add to that total.
I've got to believe most cat-lovers also appreciate wildlife. They just need to be aware that when they release Fluffy out into the yard, the cat's natural instincts kick in and he or she becomes a killing machine.
Unfortunately, cats and habitat loss are not the only things making nesting season a dangerous proposition and endangering bird populations.
The duck nest I mentioned last week? Well, either a cat or raccoon killed the hen (I observed both feeding on the carcass) and consumed the seven or more eggs in the nest in the process - literally the day after I wrote last week's column.

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