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#06-257 September 25, 2006  

American Bird Conservancy, Wildlife Society oppose feral cat colonies

Two of the United State’s top wildlife conservation organizations, American Bird Conservancy and The Wildlife Society, recently published reports and statements that say feral cat colonies are endangering wildlife species and should be eliminated.
“Exact numbers are unknown, but scientists estimate that nationwide, domestic cats kill hundreds of millions of birds and more than a billion small mammals each year,” said Laurel Barnhill, bird conservation coordinator and wildlife biologist with the S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR). “But cats are not ultimately responsible for killing native wildlife—pet owners are. The only way to prevent domestic cat predation on wildlife is for pet owners to keep their cats indoors.”
The American Bird Conservancy published a new report: “Impacts of Feral and Free-ranging Cats on Bird Species of Conservation Concern: A Five-State Review of New York, New Jersey, Florida, California, and Hawaii,” which, for the first time, analyzes the effects that cats are having on some of America’s most at-risk bird species at cat predation hotspots. The five-state review illuminates troubling threats to endangered species such as the Florida scrub-jay, piping plover, and Hawaiian petrel, and other key birds such as the painted bunting, least tern and black rail. The report was made possible through a grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.
To view or download the American Bird Conservancy’s report on feral and free-ranging cats and their effects on bird species of concern, visit the Web site: www.abcbirds.org/cats/NFWF.pdf. (The file listed on this page is in the Adobe® Acrobat® (PDF) format. Adobe® Reader® is required to open the files and is available as a free download from the Adobe® Web site. Most file sizes are less than 1M unless noted.)

Meanwhile, The Wildlife Society, the professional association of wildlife biologists, recently reaffirmed its position advocating the humane elimination of feral cat colonies because of their threat to wildlife.

Feral and free-ranging domestic cats are exotic species to North America and are one of the most widespread and serious threats to the integrity of native wildlife populations and natural ecosystems, according to Dr. Rickie Davis, Clemson University professor who is the president of the South Carolina Chapter of The Wildlife Society. The Wildlife Society’s position supports passage and enforcement of ordinances prohibiting public feeding of feral cats, and supports educational programs and materials that call for all pet cats to be kept indoors, in outdoor enclosures or on a leash.
The entire position statement of The Wildlife Society on feral and free-ranging domestic cats can be found at the Web site: www.wildlife.org/policy/index.cfm?tname=policystatements&statement=ps28.

The American Bird Conservancy report highlights the growing trend of so-called “managed” feral cat colonies that use Trap/Neuter/Release techniques, and their effects on birds, particularly at state and globally important bird areas. The evidence is clear: free-roaming cats are bad for birds. The report draws other important conclusions, perhaps most significantly that state and federal resources for controlling feral cats must be significantly increased in order to achieve the goals identified in endangered species recovery plans and state comprehensive wildlife conservation strategies.

For information on the American Bird Conservancy’s “Cats Indoors!” educational campaign, visit the Web site: www.abcbirds.org/cats/.            
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