Remember When We Wanted to Hunt Feral Cats?
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 his 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.
New numbers like this are going to reignite a whole mess of things, the least being a discussion about hunting feral cats.
Then there’s “herd management” which means environmentalists worrying about cats (feral or wondering domestics) taking out natural habitats and being an invasive species going up against animal welfare advocates who don’t wish to see millions of cats destroyed via euthanasia tactics. (Bob Barker was right, spay and neuter your pets folks.)
There are reportedly over 80 million feral cats roaming the American countryside. We’re going to have to deal with them eventually; whether were mocked for wanting to set up a hunting season for them or not.