Wildlife experts: Cats are killing Baylands wildlife
Original post made
on Sep 13, 2013
Feral cats are being accused of eating the Palo Alto Baylands' endangered species, and a proposed city ban on the public feeding of the cats could give the endangered wildlife a fighting chance, land managers and biologists said.
Read the full story here Web Link
posted Saturday, September 14, 2013, 11:15 AM
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Posted by Vox Felina
a resident of another community
on Sep 15, 2013 at 10:28 am
Vox Felina is a registered user.
To suggest, as Daren Anderson does, that feeding stations lead to an increase in the population of free-roaming cats ignores the obvious: these cats are "out there" already. The feeding is a necessary first step to getting the cats sterilized and, in many cases, adopted.
Regarding the risks to wildlife, there's actually plenty of evidence that contradicts the claims made in this piece.
In their contribution to "The Domestic Cat: The Biology of Its Behaviour," for example, researchers Mike Fitzgerald and Dennis Turner thoroughly several dozen predation studies, concluding rather unambiguously: "We consider that we do not have enough information yet to attempt to estimate on average how many birds a cat kills each year. And there are few, if any studies apart from island ones that actually demonstrate that cats have reduced bird populations." 
Something else to keep in mind: predatorscats includedtend to prey on the young, the old, the weak and unhealthy. At least two studies have investigated this in great detail, revealing that birds killed by cats are, on average, significantly less healthy that birds killed through non-predatory events (e.g., collisions with windows or cars). [2, 3]
One final point: the East Bay Parks study referred to here is plagued with methodological problemsbeginning with the fact that Cole Hawkins, the PhD student undertaking the work, had no idea what the "cat area" was like before the cats arrived. He therefore had no way of measuring their impact. Interestingly, Hawkins ignores almost entirely the fact that five of the nine ground-feeding species included in his study showed no preference for either area. 
Now, if he couldn't explain why THESE birds were unaffected by the presence of cats nearby, he was simply in no position to blame the cats for the absence of the OTHERS. Indeed, Hawkins' scat analysis suggests that predation on birds was minimal: just four percent of 120 scats contained feathers.
If we're really serious about resolving this issue, I think it's important that we begin by getting the facts straight.
Peter J. Wolf
1. Fitzgerald, B.M. and D.C. Turner, Hunting Behaviour of domestic cats and their impact on prey populations, in The Domestic Cat: The biology of its behaviour, D.C. Turner and P.P.G. Bateson, Editors. 2000, Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, U.K.; New York. p. 151175.
2. Møller, A.P. and J. Erritzøe, Predation against birds with low immunocompetence. Oecologia, 2000. 122(4): p. 500504. Web Link
3. Baker, P.J., et al., Cats about town: Is predation by free-ranging pet cats Felis catus likely to affect urban bird populations? Ibis, 2008. 150: p. 8699. Web Link
4. Hawkins, C.C., Impact of a subsidized exotic predator on native biota: Effect of house cats (Felis catus) on California birds and rodents, 1998, Texas A&M University.