Monday, March 21, 2011

The Cat Is An Invasive Species

I have had cats that hunt every day regardless of weather or if they have just eaten. One beautiful red tabby would bring parts to the welcome mat several time a day. He mostly feasted on mice, chipmunks, loads of birds, and baby rabbits. One day he brought home what was left of an adult rabbit and I watched as he had a stand off in the street with a huge black bird. He has passed away but his hunting was ledgend.

According to the authors of a first of its kind study on bird mortality, the American housecat is a "non-native, invasive species" responsible for the deaths of 500 million North American birds annually.
Nearly 80 percent of the birds were killed by predators, and cats were responsible for 47 percent of those deaths, according to the researchers, from the Smithsonian Institution and Towson University in Maryland. Death rates were particularly high in neighborhoods with large cat populations. Predation was so serious in some areas that the catbirds could not replace their numbers for the next generation, according to the researchers, who affixed tiny radio transmitters to the birds to follow them. It is the first scientific study to calculate what fraction of bird deaths during the vulnerable fledgling stage can be attributed to cats. “Cats are way up there in terms of threats to birds — they are a formidable force in driving out native species,” said Peter Marra of the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, one of the authors of the study.

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