Kitty Cams support claim that feral cats affect birds
by Nate Swick
Via 10,000 Birds
Understanding that I'm wading into the fraught topic that so many bird listservs have banned, I offer a recent study from the University of Georgia, assisted by the National Geographic Society, adding more evidence to the claim advanced by the American Bird Conservancy and others (including Anne Nightingale here at the ABA Blog) that outdoor cats have a significant negative impact on populations of birds.
And the way they acquired that evidence is pretty ingenious, from an article on the study in the LA Times:
Using cameras attached to the collars of your friendly neighborhood cats, researchers at the University of Georgia found that the feline fighters kill much larger numbers of wildlife than previously thought. That may be because such earlier studies didn't consider animals that the cats ate or simply left behind, said biologist Kerrie Anne Lloyd, who presented her findings at a Portland, Ore., meeting of the Ecological Society of America.
In cooperation with the National Geographic Society's CritterCam team, which attaches cameras to animals to record the activities of a variety of species, Lloyd and her colleagues recruited 60 cat owners in Athens, Ga. The owners attached the tiny cameras to the cats' collars every morning when the animals were let out, then dowloaded the day's images every night. Each animal was followed for seven to 10 days.
Nearly a third of the cats killed prey, an average of two a week. Remarkably, or perhaps not, the cats left 49% of their kills to rot, consuming only 30% and bringing the remainder home to what were certainly non-plussed owners. This suggests that pet owners see only a very small proportion of what the cats actually get up to.
It's worth noting that the cats in the study were all pets, with homes and regular feeding schedules, and not the feral colonies that have sparked political firestorms with regard to their management. The latter are almost certainly worse.
Once again, the evidence is abundantly clear, please heed the American Bird Conservancy's pleas to be responsible pet-owners and keep those pets indoors not only for the birds' safety, but their own as well.