The American Bird Conservancy is citing new studies that show just how important feral cats are to diets of urban-dwelling coyotes.
Studies indicate that "free-range" cats make up anywhere from 13 to 45 percent of the diets of urban-dwelling coyotes, the Bird Conservancy group says
The latest conflict was reported by the Geauga Park District where yesterday - March 29 - a woman was chased up a tree by an advancing coyote along a trail at the agency's Frohring Meadows in Bainbridge Township.
Biologist say the situation was likely one where the coyote was looking to protect its denning site. As a result of the encounter the trail has been closed to the public.
However, the matter involving coyotes seeking out cats for a quick and easy meal shows just how dependent the wild canines are on the domesticated felines, the Bird Conservancy group says as well.
As often as not when a coyote comes across a cat the former is going to eat the latter, a point brought home in a widely cited study on cat mortality from coyotes, the Bird Conservancy group says.
And the findings further suggest that the popular "trap, neuter, release" (TNR) programs where feral cats are caught, fixed and then returned to the wild in order to cut back on the number of offspring is a bad idea not only for birds but also cats, the Bird Conservancy group also says.
Feral cats - and household cats let outdoors during the day or night - kill upwards of 500 million birds each year, and also have been linked to extinction of 33 bird species, says Robert Johns, American Bird Conservancy spokesman.
"The TNR programs do not provide a humane solution for the cats themselves," Johns said.
And the group's Vice President of Conservation Advocacy Darin Schroeder says also that "well-meaning but misguided cat lovers are creating unsafe conditions for domestic cats by releasing them back into areas where they may become prey for coyotes and other predators."
"Owners who let their cats out into their neighborhoods may be unknowingly ringing the dinner bell to unseen coyotes," Schroeder says.
- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn