The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

World, nation, state

January 30, 2013

Birds by the billions fall prey to cats

The cardinal that feeds in your backyard is in jeopardy. So are the robins, warblers and migratory birds that call Ohio home for at least part of the year.

The culprit? Those cats you see roaming the neighborhood.

In fact, these felines are stone-cold killing machines, according to new research.

A study published yesterday in the journal Nature Communications estimates that cats kill as many as 3.7 billion birds and 20.7 billion mammals in the United States each year. The mammals include mice, rats, voles and chipmunks. The majority are killed by feral cats. The study’s estimates are much higher than previous studies have suggested.

Ohio is feeling the impact, said Jim McCormac, an avian expert with the Ohio Division of Wildlife. He said birds play a huge role in the ecosystem, and cats are throwing things out of balance.

“Birds are pest-control agents,” McCormac said. “So if there were no warblers, for example - a huge bird population that comes through Ohio - caterpillars would run completely amok, and we’d have an ecological catastrophe on our hands.”

Scientists from the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service performed the research and concluded that cats are the single-greatest source of bird and mammal mortality, out-killing all other sources combined.

The study is based on a review of 90 previous studies and offers the most comprehensive analysis of information on this issue, according to the researchers.

The loss of birds also affects Ohio’s economy, said Kim Kaufman, director of the Black Swamp Bird Observatory in northwestern Ohio. She said bird-watchers bring more than $30 million to the lake-shore area each spring.

“The bird migration through here is really spectacular and a wonderful thing for tourism, so these cats could have a significant impact on the global species that pass through Ohio on their migration,” Kaufman said.

A 2010 University of Nebraska Extension study estimated that cats cause $17 billion a year in damages to bird-watchers, hunters and wildlife. The $17 billion is based in part on estimates that the 60 million stray and feral cats that live in the United States kill six to eight birds per year. There are as many as 88 million domestic cats, many of which spend time outdoors.

Donald Burton, a veterinarian and CEO of the Ohio Wildlife Center, said cat attacks are the leading cause of admissions for the 5,000 animals the center treats each year.

Burton, Kaufman and McCormac said there is an easy solution: Keep cats indoors. All three said they own cats but don’t allow them outdoors.

“Once a cat enters the outdoors, it becomes an invasive species because they don’t have a natural role in our ecosystem,” McCormac said.

Linda Granger, a Granville resident, said her cat, Woody, brings home birds and rabbits.

“I don’t like that he hunts, but he was a feral cat and we saved him,” she said. “Once they start hunting, they have a desire to do that.”

Granger, who also has two indoor cats, said Woody was neutered.

Burton said licensing regulations should be as strict on cats as they are on dogs, which are not allowed to roam free.

Feral cats are a harder problem to tackle, Kaufman said. She said people should think twice about feeding them.

“I know it’s easier to relate to cats that we take into our homes as pets than to small birds people often never see, so we need to give these birds a voice, too,” Kaufman said.

Text Only
World, nation, state
  • U.S. says Russia is firing across border into Ukraine

    Russia is launching artillery attacks from its soil on Ukrainian troops and preparing to move heavier weaponry across the border, the U.S. and Ukraine charged Friday in what appeared to be an ominous escalation of the crisis.

    July 25, 2014

  • Gaza sides agree to lull but truce efforts stall

     Israel-Hamas fighting looked headed for escalation after U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry failed Friday to broker a weeklong truce as a first step toward a broader deal and Israel’s defense minister warned Israel might soon expand its Gaza ground operation “significantly.”

    July 25, 2014

  • Planes with Ukraine bodies arrive in Netherlands

    Two more military aircraft carrying remains of victims from the Malaysian plane disaster arrived in the Netherlands on Thursday, while Australian and Dutch diplomats joined to promote a plan for a U.N. team to secure the crash site which has been controlled by pro-Russian rebels.

    July 24, 2014

  • UN school in Gaza caught in cross-fire; 15 killed

    A U.N. school in Gaza crowded with hundreds of Palestinians seeking refuge from fierce fighting came under fire Thursday, killing at least 15 civilians and leaving a sad tableau of blood-spattered pillows, blankets and children’s clothing scattered in the courtyard.

    July 24, 2014

  • Air Algerie jet with 116 on board crashes in Mali

    An Air Algerie jetliner carrying 116 people crashed Thursday in a rainstorm over restive Mali, and its wreckage was found near the border of neighboring Burkina Faso — the third major international aviation disaster in a week.

    July 24, 2014

  • Troubled childhoods may prompt men to volunteer for military service

    In the era of the all-volunteer U.S. military, men who served are more than twice as likely as those who never did to have been sexually abused as children and to have grown up around domestic violence and substance abuse, a new study has found.

    July 24, 2014

  • As poverty continues to rise, fewer Ohioans are receiving state aid

    The number of Ohioans receiving public assistance continues to drop even while poverty increases, raising questions about how the state helps the poor.

    July 24, 2014

  • ’Saltwater’ from fracking spill much different from ocean water

    In early July, a million gallons of salty drilling waste spilled from a pipeline onto a steep hillside in western North Dakota’s Fort Berthold Reservation. The waste — a byproduct of oil and gas production — has now reached a tributary of Lake Sakakawea, which provides drinking water to the reservation.

    July 24, 2014

  • 40 bodies from jet solemnly returned to Dutch soil

    Victims of the Malaysian jetliner shot down over Ukraine returned at last Wednesday to Dutch soil in 40 wooden coffins, solemnly and gently carried to 40 identical hearses, flags at half-staff flapping in the wind.

    July 23, 2014

  • U.S. pushes for truce as Gaza battle rages

    The United States announced signs of progress in cease-fire talks Wednesday, but prospects for a quick end to the fighting were dim as Palestinian families fled fierce battles in southern Gaza and the death toll rose to more than 700 Palestinians and 34 Israelis.

    July 23, 2014

House Ads

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
AP Video