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Thread: Study shows felines far worse than pythons in killing wildlife Read more: http://www

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    Study shows felines far worse than pythons in killing wildlife Read more: http://www

    TAMPA BAY - For all the talk about Burmese pythons invading the Everglades and doing untold environmental damage, a new study suggests that a common household pet is doing far more damage than any other animal, except humans.

    "They're natural born killers," said Angeline Scotten of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. She's referring to felines, the common domestic cat.

    "Most people really don't understand that when these cats go outside, even if they're well fed, they're still driven by instinct," Scotten said. "If they see a lizard come by, they're going to pounce on it. That's just what cats do," she said.

    The journal Nature Communications published a report Tuesday that said a single cat can kill as many as 18 birds a year, and more than 20 rodents annually. When multiplied by the estimated millions of pet and feral cats outdoors, that equals billions of animal deaths every year.

    In Florida, birds are the most vulnerable, as many species travel to the peninsula during migration periods.

    "Our birds don't know how to respond to the feral cats," Scotten said. "It's really very disrupting and it's really harmful to our ecosystem."

    For years, state officials have encouraged people to be responsible with their cats and keep them indoors. Unfortunately, the problem appears to be getting worse, as more feral cat colonies are appearing either because cats are abandoned in the wild, or people feed the animals that are already living outdoors.

    Because domestic cats are an invasive species with virtually no predators, they have an impact all the way down the food chain.

    The so-called "catch and release" program is also considered a threat to the environment. FWC says while that program does spay or neuter captured cats to prevent breeding, they are released back into the wild where they can continue to kill other animals, especially birds.

    "I think it's very possible we're going to start seeing a lower population of birds, especially neotropical migrants and the songbirds," Scotten said.

    For now, state officials are hoping that educating cat owners to prevent their pets from going outside will lead to a reversal in the trend.

    "They really do belong indoors," Scotten said. "It's really important for people to be responsible pet owners."

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    That Cuddly Kitty Is Deadlier Than You Think

    For all the adorable images of cats that play the piano, flush the toilet, mew melodiously and find their way back home over hundreds of miles, scientists have identified a shocking new truth: cats are far deadlier than anyone realized.
    In a report that scaled up local surveys and pilot studies to national dimensions, scientists from the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute and the Fish and Wildlife Service estimated that domestic cats in the United States — both the pet Fluffies that spend part of the day outdoors and the unnamed strays and ferals that never leave it — kill a median of 2.4 billion birds and 12.3 billion mammals a year, most of them native mammals like shrews, chipmunks and voles rather than introduced pests like the Norway rat.

    The estimated kill rates are two to four times higher than mortality figures previously bandied about, and position the domestic cat as one of the single greatest human-linked threats to wildlife in the nation. More birds and mammals die at the mouths of cats, the report said, than from automobile strikes, pesticides and poisons, collisions with skyscrapers and windmills and other so-called anthropogenic causes.

    Peter Marra of the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute and an author of the report, said the mortality figures that emerge from the new model “are shockingly high.”

    “When we ran the model, we didn’t know what to expect,” said Dr. Marra, who performed the analysis with a colleague, Scott R. Loss, and Tom Will of the Fish and Wildlife Service. “We were absolutely stunned by the results.” The study appeared Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications.

    The findings are the first serious estimate of just how much wildlife America’s vast population of free-roaming domestic cats manages to kill each year.

    “We’ve been discussing this problem of cats and wildlife for years and years, and now we finally have some good science to start nailing down the numbers,” said George H. Fenwick, the president and chief executive of the American Bird Conservancy. “This is a great leap forward over the quality of research we had before.”

    In devising their mathematical model, the researchers systematically sifted through the existing scientific literature on cat-wildlife interactions, eliminated studies in which the sample size was too small or the results too extreme, and then extracted and standardized the findings from the 21 most rigorous studies. The results admittedly come with wide ranges and uncertainties.

    Nevertheless, the new report is likely to fuel the sometimes vitriolic debate between environmentalists who see free-roaming domestic cats as an invasive species — superpredators whose numbers are growing globally even as the songbirds and many other animals the cats prey on are in decline — and animal welfare advocates who are appalled by the millions of unwanted cats (and dogs) euthanized in animal shelters each year.

    All concur that pet cats should not be allowed to prowl around the neighborhood at will, any more than should a pet dog, horse or potbellied pig, and that cat owners who insist their felines “deserve” a bit of freedom are being irresponsible and ultimately not very cat friendly. Through recent projects like Kitty Cams at the University of Georgia, in which cameras are attached to the collars of indoor-outdoor pet cats to track their activities, not only have cats been filmed preying on cardinals, frogs and field mice, they have also been shown lapping up antifreeze and sewer sludge, dodging under moving cars and sparring violently with much bigger dogs.

    “We’ve put a lot of effort into trying to educate people that they should not let their cats outside, that it’s bad for the cats and can shorten the cats’ lives,” said Danielle Bays, the manager of the community cat programs at the Washington Humane Society.

    Yet the new study estimates that free-roaming pets account for only about 29 percent of the birds and 11 percent of the mammals killed by domestic cats each year, and the real problem arises over how to manage the 80 million or so stray or feral cats that commit the bulk of the wildlife slaughter.

    The Washington Humane Society and many other animal welfare organizations support the use of increasingly popular trap-neuter-return programs, in which unowned cats are caught, vaccinated, spayed and, if no home can be found for them, returned to the outdoor colony from which they came. Proponents see this approach as a humane alternative to large-scale euthanasia, and they insist that a colony of neutered cats can’t reproduce and thus will eventually disappear.

    Conservationists say that, far from diminishing the population of unowned cats, trap and release programs may be making it worse, by encouraging people to abandon their pets to outdoor colonies that volunteers often keep lovingly fed.

    “The number of free roaming cats is definitively growing,” Dr. Fenwick of the bird conservancy said. “It’s estimated that there are now more than 500 T.N.R. colonies in Austin alone.”

    They are colonies of subsidized predators, he said, able to survive in far greater concentrations than do wild carnivores by dint of their people-pleasing appeal. “They’re not like coyotes, having to make their way in the world,” he said.

    Yet even fed cats are profoundly tuned to the hunt, and when they see something flutter, they can’t help but move in for the kill. Dr. Fenwick argues that far more effort should be put into animal adoption. “For the great majority of healthy cats,” he said, “homes can be found.” Any outdoor colonies that remain should be enclosed, he said. “Cats don’t need to wander hundred of miles to be happy,” he said.

  3. #3
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    Dec 2012
    I love this!

  4. #4
    Senior Member dee's Avatar
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    Mar 2012
    sumter sc
    About damn time someone opened the eyes and saw the real problem out there. I hate to say it but we got a pellet gun last yr just for cats and dogs.
    2.0 normal burmese
    0.1 albino burmese
    1.0 albino granite burmese
    0.1 granite burmese
    1.0 tiger retic
    0.1 albino lavender tiger retic
    0.1 platinum retic
    5.2 ball pythons
    0.1 spider ball
    1.0 granite sided borneo stp
    1.0 borneo stp
    0.1 striped borneo stp
    1.0 spectical caiman
    A lot more to list

  5. #5
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    Dec 2012
    HAHAHA^^^ I do hate cats. they don't even make for good snake food.useless things, especially feral ones, nasty things.I've been a vet tech for 5+ years and I'll take a pist off 10ft retic over a feral cat any day of the week!

  6. #6
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    Feb 2011
    the dogs in the street could have told congress that!!

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