Thursday, February 2nd, 2023
Thursday, February 2nd, 2023

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New Report Puts Economic Impact of Feral Cat Predation on Birds at $17 Billion

A new, peer-reviewed report titled Feral Cats and Their
Management, from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln,
has put the annual economic loss from feral cat predation on birds
in the United States at $17 billion. The report analyzes existing
research on management of the burgeoning feral cat population–more
than 60 million and counting–in the United States, including the
controversial practice of Trap, Neuter, Release (TNR).

“This report is a must read for any community or government
official thinking about what to do about feral cats,” said Darin
Schroeder, Vice President for Conservation Advocacy for American
Bird Conservancy, the nation’s leading bird conservation
organization. “It encapsulates the extensive research on this
subject and draws conclusions based on that data. Not surprisingly,
the report validates everything American Bird Conservancy has been
saying about the feral cat issue for many years, namely TNR doesn’t
work in controlling feral cat populations.

“Communities seeking a solution to their feral cat problems need
to consider the science on the issue and the well being of animals
impacted by feral cats as well as the cats themselves. These other
animals – birds especially – don’t deserve to die at the hands of a
predator introduced into their environment by irresponsible pet
owners. A humane decision-making process on this issue must also
recognize that feral cats live short, miserable lives because of
disease, other predators, severe weather and traffic hazards. Thus
their life expectancy is about one third as long as owned
cats.”

A key finding of the report was the statement by the authors
that they do not recommend the TNR method to eliminate colonies of
feral cats. In their extensive research, they were unable to find a
single real-world example of TNR succeeding in eliminating a feral
cat colony.

Some of the many findings of the report
include:

· Feral cats are invasive and pose a threat to native fauna and
public health.

· Three separate studies showed that most feral cats (62 to 80
percent) carry the parasite responsible for toxoplasmosis – a
condition of special concern to pregnant women.

· Cats are responsible for the extinction of at least 33 species of
birds.

· Feral cats kill an estimated 480 million birds in the U.S. each
year (the study did not address the question of bird predation by
owned cats. Studies suggest that there are 80 million owned cats in
the U.S. and that 43 percent have access to the outdoors. Total cat
predation on birds is likely around one billion birds per year,
though some analyses suggest much higher figures.)

· Feeding feral cats encourages them to congregate which encourages
the chances of diseases being transmitted.

· The supplemental feeding of feral cats should be
prohibited.

· Cats kill far more native wildlife species than nuisance
(invasive) species.

· Cats will kill wildlife no matter how well they are fed.

· One reference to TNR success claimed that one particular feral
cat colony numbered 920 cats before TNR, and then 678 after.
However, when migrations and births were factored in, the colony
had actually increased in size — to 983 cats.

· The life expectancy of a feral cat is 3-5 years as opposed to 15
years for owned cats.

The report can be viewed by going to the following website and
then scrolling to report EC1781:
http://elkhorn.unl.edu/epublic/pages/index.jsp?what=subjectAreasD&subjectAreasId=38.

 

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