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chatnoir
October 2nd 09, 01:32 PM
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/29/science/29angi.html?_r=1&em=&pagewanted=all

headline:

Give Birds a Break. Lock Up the Cat.

excerpt:

Peter P. Marra, a research scientist at the Smithsonian Migratory Bird
Center at the National Zoo, pointed out that cats were the only
domesticated animal permitted to roam. “Pigs have to stay in pens,
chickens have to stay in pens,” he said. “Why are cats allowed to run
around and do what their instincts tell them to do, which is rampage?”

It isn’t fair to the cat. Regular stints outdoors are estimated to
knock three or more years off a pet cat’s life. “No parent would let a
toddler outside the house to run free in traffic,” said Darin
Schroeder, vice president for conservation advocacy at the American
Bird Conservancy in Washington. “A responsible owner shouldn’t do it
with a pet.”

In the view of many wildlife researchers, a pet cat on a lap may be a
piece of self-cleaning perfection, but a pet cat on the loose is like
a snakefish or English ivy: an invasive species. Although domestic
cats have been in this country since the colonial era, they are
thought to be the descendants of a Middle Eastern species of wild cat,
and there is nothing quite like them native to North America. As a
result, many local prey species are poorly equipped to parry a
domestic cat’s stealth approach. “People fool themselves into
believing that by simply putting a bell on a cat they could prevent
mortality to birds,” Mr. Schroeder said. “But a bell ringing means
nothing to a bird.”

Moreover, free-ranging domestic cats are considered subsidized
predators. They eat cat food at home, and then hunt just for sport, a
strategy that allows them to exist at densities far greater than
carnivores achieve in nature. “It’s estimated that there are 117
million to 150 million free-ranging cats” in the United States, Dr.
Marra said. “They’re the most abundant carnivore in North America
today.”

Yet for all their indefatigable stalking, cats will rarely take on the
most cursed vermin in our midst. “The myth has been propagated that
urban roaming cats do a lot to control the rat population,” Mr.
Schroeder said. “But science has shown that cats don’t predate on
rats, especially not the rather large variety seen in our cities.”

Cats’ toll on birds is a less mythical matter. In one famous study
reported in the journal Nature, Kevin R. Crooks of the University of
California, Santa Cruz, and Michael E. Soulé of the Wildlands Project
in Colorado looked at the population dynamics among cats, coyotes and
scrub birds in 28 “urban habitat fragments” of Southern California. In
the developments to which coyotes had access, free-ranging cats were
rare and avian diversity high. The coyotes ate cats but rarely
bothered with birds. Where coyotes were excluded, cats ranged free and
bird diversity dropped.
....

No Name
October 3rd 09, 05:15 PM
"chatnoir" > wrote in message
...
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/29/science/29angi.html?_r=1&em=&pagewanted=all

headline:

Give Birds a Break. Lock Up the Cat.

excerpt:

Peter P. Marra, a research scientist at the Smithsonian Migratory Bird
Center at the National Zoo, pointed out that cats were the only
domesticated animal permitted to roam. “Pigs have to stay in pens,
chickens have to stay in pens,” he said. “Why are cats allowed to run
around and do what their instincts tell them to do, which is rampage?”

It isn’t fair to the cat. Regular stints outdoors are estimated to
knock three or more years off a pet cat’s life. “No parent would let a
toddler outside the house to run free in traffic,” said Darin
Schroeder, vice president for conservation advocacy at the American
Bird Conservancy in Washington. “A responsible owner shouldn’t do it
with a pet.”

In the view of many wildlife researchers, a pet cat on a lap may be a
piece of self-cleaning perfection, but a pet cat on the loose is like
a snakefish or English ivy: an invasive species. Although domestic
cats have been in this country since the colonial era, they are
thought to be the descendants of a Middle Eastern species of wild cat,
and there is nothing quite like them native to North America. As a
result, many local prey species are poorly equipped to parry a
domestic cat’s stealth approach. “People fool themselves into
believing that by simply putting a bell on a cat they could prevent
mortality to birds,” Mr. Schroeder said. “But a bell ringing means
nothing to a bird.”

Moreover, free-ranging domestic cats are considered subsidized
predators. They eat cat food at home, and then hunt just for sport, a
strategy that allows them to exist at densities far greater than
carnivores achieve in nature. “It’s estimated that there are 117
million to 150 million free-ranging cats” in the United States, Dr.
Marra said. “They’re the most abundant carnivore in North America
today.”

Yet for all their indefatigable stalking, cats will rarely take on the
most cursed vermin in our midst. “The myth has been propagated that
urban roaming cats do a lot to control the rat population,” Mr.
Schroeder said. “But science has shown that cats don’t predate on
rats, especially not the rather large variety seen in our cities.”

Cats’ toll on birds is a less mythical matter. In one famous study
reported in the journal Nature, Kevin R. Crooks of the University of
California, Santa Cruz, and Michael E. Soulé of the Wildlands Project
in Colorado looked at the population dynamics among cats, coyotes and
scrub birds in 28 “urban habitat fragments” of Southern California. In
the developments to which coyotes had access, free-ranging cats were
rare and avian diversity high. The coyotes ate cats but rarely
bothered with birds. Where coyotes were excluded, cats ranged free and
bird diversity dropped.
....

nature = varied and some times dangerous.