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Killer cats prowl your bird feeders

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Greg Peck
February 7, 2013

Many of us love to feed and watch birds. Many of us also love cats (though I’m not among them). Likewise, many cat owners think nothing of violating a Janesville city ordinance and let their felines out to roam the neighborhood and perhaps even procreate. I see cats prowling our neighborhood all the time.

Now, a new study suggests cats kill up to 3.7 billion birds annually. That’s much higher than previous estimates of hundreds of millions of bird deaths per year.

Chuck Raasch of USA Today reports that cats that live in the wild or indoor pets allowed to roam outdoors kill between 1.4 billion and 3.7 billion birds in the continental U.S. each year.

The study also says that cats kill from 6.9 billion to as many as 20.7 billion mammals—mainly mice, shrews, rabbits and voles—annually in the contiguous 48 states.

The research “stunned” ornithologist Peter Marra of the Smithsonian's Conservation Biology Institute. He and a Smithsonian colleague and a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist conducted the study.

That’s alarming given that about one-third of the 800 bird species in the U.S. are endangered, threatened or in significant decline, according to the American Bird Conservancy.

The study criticizes the trap-neuter-return policy advocated by Alley Cat Allies and other defenders of free-roaming cats. The goal of the policy is to gradually reduce outdoor cat populations while avoiding widespread euthanasia policies in animal shelters.

This research is something cat lovers should consider the next time they open their doors to let out their beloved felines.

Greg Peck can be reached at (608) 755-8278 or gpeck@gazettextra.com. Or follow him on Twitter or Facebook



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