Cats Are Killing One Million Birds In Australia Every Day

Posted: Oct 7 2017, 2:57am CDT | by , Updated: Oct 7 2017, 3:06am CDT, in News | Latest Science News

 
Cats are Killing One Million Birds in Australia Every Day
Photo Credit: Getty Images

the staggering slaughter is driving the decline of many native species

Wild and domestic cats in Australia are killing more than one million birds a day, a new research finds.

Scientists have long speculated cats are partly responsible for the decline of many native mammals and bird species, but until now they have had very little hard evidence. The study provides the first estimates of the killings of Australian birds by cats and suggests that the seemingly innocent pet is indeed a serious threat to Australia’s wildlife. In the rest of the world, extinction of various species is usually driven by human activities like overhunting or the loss of their natural habitats.

"Everyone knows that cats kill birds, but this study shows that, at a national level, the amount of predation is staggering," said lead researcher John Woinarski from Charles Darwin University. "It is likely to be driving the ongoing decline of many species."

Australia is known for its rich and extensive biodiversity, but their alarming extinction rate has been a source of puzzlement over the years. Many recent studies were able to identify one of the major culprits behind their decline. The popularity of cats as pet have kept them in high densities across Australian towns and cities and allowed them to catch and kill a huge number of birds.

Researchers came to that conclusion based results from nearly 100 studies across the country by environmental scientists, each sampling cat population density. They found that cats kill 338 bird types, almost of half of which are Australia’s native species. Feral cats cause 316 million bird deaths, while pet cats kill 61 million birds every year.

The highest rates of predation in Australia were observed in islands and remote arid areas, which remain virtually untouched by people and should be a safe-haven for animals by global standards.

"We found that the birds most likely to be killed by cats are medium sized birds, birds that nest and feed on the ground, and birds that occur on islands or in woodlands, grasslands and shrublands.” Woinarski said.

Cats are wiping out entire populations of Australian birds since being introduced by Europeans settlers in the country 200 years ago. Australia authorities have been taking several measures to address the issue and to reintroduce native animals that have been pushed to the brink of extinction by the feral predator.

"Our knowledge of the impacts of cats on threatened mammals was a major stimulus for our first-ever national Threatened Species Strategy, which prioritized actions to control feral cats," said Australia's Threatened Species Commissioner Sebastian Lang.

“This new research emphasizes the need to continue working to reduce the impact of cats on our native biodiversity.”

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Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.

 

 

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