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Grizzly bears, black bears, wolves, coyotes, cougars/ mountain lions,bobcats, wolverines, lynx, foxes, fishers and martens are the suite of carnivores that originally inhabited North America after the Pleistocene extinctions. This site invites research, commentary, point/counterpoint on that suite of native animals (predator and prey) that inhabited The Americas circa 1500-at the initial point of European exploration and subsequent colonization. Landscape ecology, journal accounts of explorers and frontiersmen, genetic evaluations of museum animals, peer reviewed 20th and 21st century research on various aspects of our "Wild America" as well as subjective commentary from expert and layman alike. All of the above being revealed and discussed with the underlying goal of one day seeing our Continent rewilded.....Where big enough swaths of open space exist with connective corridors to other large forest, meadow, mountain, valley, prairie, desert and chaparral wildlands.....Thereby enabling all of our historic fauna, including man, to live in a sustainable and healthy environment. - Blogger Rick

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Saturday, September 8, 2012

Just as there is a huge disconnect between Republicans and Democrats as to the best course of action for our Country, so is there a wide chasm between people who seek to restore and enance wild bird populations and those who define themselves as "domestic cat people"............Only 9 percent of cat colony caretakers believed cats harmed bird populations, and only 6 percent believed feral cats carried diseases......... Colony caretakers supported treating feral cats as protected wildlife and using trap, neuter and release programs to manage feral cat populations............Many bird conservation professionals, meanwhile, saw feral cats as pests and supported removing and euthanizing them..............From first hand observation, my vote is to reduce the feral cat population by whatever means necessary and have enough Coyotes throughout the Country to make cat owners realize that if they let their tabby wander outside unleashed, chances are he or she "aint returning home"

Why Claws Come out Over Feral Cat Management: Finding Common Ground Among 'Cat People' and 'Bird People'

ScienceDaily  — The contentious phenomenon of identity politics isn't limited to Democrats and Republicans. A national survey shows that "cat people" and "bird people" have heated differences of opinion, complicating the challenge of managing more than 50 million free-roaming feral cats while protecting threatened wildlife.
A North Carolina State University study published Sept. 6 in PLoS ONE identifies why the claws come out over feral cat management and which approaches might be useful in finding common ground among those with polarized opinions.

feral cat colony sunning on rocks and eyes peeled for a wildlife meal

The research started as a hands-on class project for undergraduate and graduate students in Dr. Nils Peterson's Human Dimensions of Wildlife course last year. Team members surveyed 577 people across the U.S. who identified themselves as cat colony caretakers or bird conservation professionals affiliated with groups such as the Audubon Society and American Bird Conservancy.
"Members of both these groups feel they have concerns that have been ignored," says Peterson, an associate professor of fisheries, wildlife and conservation biology in the College of Natural Resources. "This feeling of injustice is part of what leads them to identify with their groups."

Bird conservation professionals, whose focus is on protecting species from extinction in the wild, see feral cats as threats to the survival of wild birds. Cat colony caretakers, on the other hand, dedicate themselves to caring for neighborhood animals they see as abandoned and neglected by others.
The polarized points of view led to wide differences in responses to factual statements about feral cat management and disagreement about the impact of feral cats on wildlife.

Only 9 percent of cat colony caretakers believed cats harmed bird populations, and only 6 percent believed feral cats carried diseases. Colony caretakers supported treating feral cats as protected wildlife and using trap, neuter and release programs to manage feral cat populations.

Many bird conservation professionals, meanwhile, saw feral cats as pests and supported removing and euthanizing them. Within both groups, women and older respondents were less likely to support euthanasia."The most surprising result was that cat colony caretakers were more amenable to seeking collaborative solutions to feral cat management than bird conservation professionals," Peterson says. "Eighty percent of the cat caretakers thought it was possible, while 50 percent of the bird conservationists felt that it was."

How could the groups take steps to work together in the face of differing opinions about the scientific evidence?

Peterson says part of the solution is getting buy-in. Cat colony caretakers would have to be involved in deciding which data should be collected and how and where it should be done. When possible, participants should be able to see results for themselves rather than relying on reports from another group. One example: observing firsthand that feral cats kill wildlife rather than reading studies that show feral cats contribute to global declines among songbird populations. Another possibility is training cat colony caretakers to recognize parasites or signs of disease in the animals they see regularly, improving the cats' health and caretakers' knowledge.

Finally, the groups should recognize they share the common ground of caring about animals. In fact, half of the bird conservation professionals owned and cared for cats.

Why Cats Belong Indoors

Why Cats Belong Indoors
It’s 10am. Do you know where Fluffy is?
If you are like many people, and allow your cat to roam outdoors, there is a distinct possibility that at this moment, Fluffy is stalking an unaware bird, ready to pounce with deadly accuracy. “But wait, Fluffy is well fed”, you say. That doesn’t matter. Cats do not always hunt because they are hungry. They hunt because of an innate instinct for hunting. They hunt because it is, dare I say it, fun. “Well, Fluffy wears a bell and that will serve as a warning”, you say. No again. A bell is useless. Wildlife does not recognize the sound of a bell as a danger signal and even if they did, most cats learn to stalk and seize their prey silently, despite the presence of a bell on their collar.
Cats as our companions
Cats are companion animals, just as dogs are. They were domesticated thousands of years ago in Egypt and were brought to the United States a couple of hundred years ago. Cats evolved from wild species but are now considered their own separate species, Felis catus. Although they retain many of their wild characteristics such as appearance and the urge to hunt, they are now as domesticated as dogs are. Would you allow your dog to roam freely in the neighborhood?
Cats impact on birds and other wildlife:
You have no doubt read about the decline of our native birds. Many bird populations are in a serious and steep decline due to three major causes: habitat destruction, window bird collisions (a topic we discussed in the last issue of Killdeer) and cat predation. When you add up these losses, the math is chilling. Hundreds of millions of birds are killed by cats each year, and between 100 million and a billion die from window collisions. Factor in habitat loss and you are now looking at an unsustainable loss of these species.
Cats also kill prey animals such as mice, chipmunks, squirrels, rabbits and other small mammals, competing with native species such as hawks, owls, foxes and other larger wild predators that depend on these animals for their survival. Statistics show that the combined numbers of birds and small mammals killed each year by cats is close to one billion. Allowing a well fed house cat to compete for wild food sources places native predators at a disadvantage. Bottom line, cats are an invasive and alien species and do not belong in our ecosystem.
The Dangers Cats Themselves Face
You may be wondering if it is cruel to deprive your cat of an outdoor life. Absolutely not. Cats that are allowed outside are more likely to lead shorter lives. Exposure to transmittable and deadly diseases (such as rabies, feline leukemia, distemper and FIV), the constant threat of being hit by a car, as well as being attacked by a dog or a larger predator such as a fox are very real and likely possibilities. In addition, there have been many publicized cases of cats found stabbed, burned and shot by humans. Letting your cat outside can also be a risk for you: cats can contract diseases such as rabies and toxoplasmosis, both of which can be transmitted to humans. Furthermore, an outdoor cat may carry parasites, such as ticks, fleas and worms into the home. Why expose your cat and yourself to these risks? Keep Fluffy inside and allow her to live a spoiled, pampered life!
What HOBAS is Doing to Help
Thanks to an Audubon collaborative grant, Huntington-Oyster Bay Audubon is spearheading a Cats Belong Indoors educational campaign to spread awareness about this issue. HOBAS is coordinating a council of other like minded organizations, including the American Bird Conservancy, in order to bring this message to the public. We plan to distribute brochures to veterinarians, cat rescue groups, shelters and pet stores to help spread the message that allowing your cat outside is deadly to birds, other wildlife and to be frank, your cat.
When you really think about it, the greatest gift you can give your cat is to allow it to live a pampered, spoiled life inside your home. For more information on how to keep your kitty a happy indoor kitty, please visit the following website: Keep an eye out for a Cats Belong Indoors section on our website in the future.
One final note: if you are no longer able to care for your cat for any reason, we ask that you not release it outdoors, thinking it will fend for itself, or that someone will find it and take care of it. Chances are your cat will end up dead. Please take your unwanted cat to a local shelter or rescue organization. Think of your cat’s quality of life as well as the lives of our native species. Birds and other wildlife are already struggling to survive in a world filled with human caused obstacles. As caretakers of our natural world, why make it more difficult for them by allowing your cat to roam outside?
For the health and happiness of your cat, for the benefit of wild animals, and for your peace of mind, please, keep your cat indoors.

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