Friday, October 5, 2012

Joe Neal on effect of wandering cats on bird population

I feel pretty sure that at least some members of the Fayetteville City Council feed birds in their yards. That is why, during public comments at the council meeting of October 2 that supported regulation and perpetuation of feral cat colonies, I stated a vote FOR this effort to deal with free-ranging feral cats was effectively a vote AGAINST birds.
    One research project documented activities of a feral cat that killed 1,600 animals, including birds, during 16 months.  As I pointed out, most folks don't realize this is going on in their own yards. If a teenage boy is out there with a BB gun shooting cardinals off the feeder, we call the police. Cats work out-of-sight. Feral cats, domestic cats, cats with bells around their necks -- research shows they all do it if allowed to roam.
    We are up in our environmental arms because of tens of thousands of bird deaths associated with the BP oil spill, but guess what . . . it is happening daily, in our own yards. Cats, both domestic and feral, are killing upwards one BILLION birds annually in North America.
    Northern Cardinals, Carolina Chickadees, Carolina Wrens, White-throated Sparrows, Downy Woodpeckers, and other small birds are numerous, but they look much alike, unless banded as part of a research effort. If cats kill 1 or 2 or 10, it passes without notice. It is noticed in banding studies.
    This is why, as biologist and birder, I view actions of the council October 2 as a guarantee of continued bird killing, rather than a viable solution.

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