Friday, March 30, 2012

Feral cats a top prey for coyotes

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
Twitter: @Fieldkorn

1 comment:

  1. Forgive me for doubting the American Bird Conservancy’s (ABC) sincerity in its concern over coyote predation of feral cats, but this is, after all, the same organization that routinely advocates rounding up and killing outdoor cats (“Studies Show Outdoor Cats Are Popular Prey For Coyotes”, March 29).

    Cats have lived outdoors among people since the dawn of civilization. And yet ABC advocates for removing cats from their outdoor home and bringing them to shelters—a death sentence for the cats, who cannot be adopted and are almost always killed there.

    Communities have embraced Trap-Neuter-Return for feral cats because, unlike “catch and kill,” TNR actually works to end the breeding cycle and stabilize the population. Still, the American Bird Conservancy continues to twist the truth to fit their cynical agenda—attacking cats for headlines and fundraising dollars.

    Becky Robinson
    President, Alley Cat Allies