Tom and Kitty Kill Hundreds of Millions Every Year In US Alone
New Video Casts Doubt On Effectiveness Of Sterilizing Feral Cats To Reduce Huge Toll On Wild Birds
It's a bloody jungle out there in the ecosystem, with the predator and prey relationship exacting a huge toll. We're not talking about the wilderness but rather a dramatic battle taking place in urban back yards, suburban hedgerows, and the half-acre lots of exurbia. One of the most lethal predators on the planet is kitty the house cat, her friend, Tom, and feline homeless friends out on the prowl. “Feral and free-roaming cats kill hundreds of millions of our nation’s birds each year, putting additional pressure on the populations of many species that are in decline," says Steve Holmer of the American Bird Conservancy
. And Holmer says that's just the impact in the U.S. where there are an estimated 80 million pet cats and another 120 million feral ones.
Birders and professional ornithologists around the world have long recognized the scope of the problem, but what to do about it? In a new video from the conservancy that you can watch here—“Trap, Neuter, and Release: Bad for Cats, Disaster for Birds"— it appears we know what NOT to do. One of the recent experiments involves TNR, or trap, neuter and release.
The premise is that over time, carnivorous feral cats, being unable to reproduce, will decline in numbers. But Holmer says TNR doesn't work.
The conservancy's film examines a gated residential community in South Florida and a public park where an arsenal of resources were expended. In fact, one of the sites and its strategy was hailed as a national model in the U.S. but Holmer says the results are debatable with 500 feral cats there still killing birds every day. Holmer notes: “The truth is that TNR fails to eliminate cat colonies, and instead perpetuates many of the problems these colonies create, including the predation of birds and other wildlife, risks to human and wildlife health, and public nuisance."
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