The New York Times has today joined in the debate about cats. A new study in The Journal of Ornithology on the mortality of baby gray catbirds in the Washington suburbs.
Killer number 1 of the birds? Cats . Yep, your friendly neighborhood moggie . 80% of the birds were killed by predators and cats were responsible for 47% of the deaths.
The New York Times adds “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.
The American Bird Conservancy estimates that up to 500 million birds are killed each year by cats — about half by pets and half by feral felines. “I hope we can now stop minimizing and trivializing the impacts that outdoor cats have on the environment and start addressing the serious problem of cat predation,” said Darin Schroeder, the group’s vice president for conservation advocacy."
Meanwhile the debate in New Zealand is about to go ballistic. Well known Gareth Morgan has raised the topic a while back and every cat lover in the country seems to have replied. Tonight he has added fuel to the fire on television by getting stuck into the SPCA"s policy of Trap, Neuter and Return .
As defined by the San Francisco SPCA's website :
Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) is the humane way to manage feral and free roaming cats, preventing the breeding that leads to even more feral cats.
With TNR, cats are caught with humane box traps, spayed/neutered and vaccinated, and then returned where they were found to live out their lives under the eye of a watchful human caretaker who provides food, water and shelter as necessary. Cats that have been “TNRed” have their left ear tipped, meaning that the tip of one ear is clipped while the cat is under anesthesia. A tipped ear identifies a cat as part of a managed TNR program, and will safeguard him if ever re-trapped.
Morgan argues that this means that the cats are free to keep hunting and that birds and New Zealand wildlife doesnt stand a chance against this policy.
Guaranteed that it will spark a very healthy debate ...
Cat images: Bigstock.com