An investigation into the high number of deaths among birds and small animals led to a surprising result. Peter Marra. an animal ecologist with the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, led the research project in the United States. The results were published in Nature Communications January 29, 2013.
Marra and his researchers checked first for human factors such as pollution, toxic waste dumping, excessive use of pesticides and fertilizers. These factors could not account for the high number of deaths. Marra then shifted the research to the effects of predators.
Common household cats were found to kill between 1.4 and 3.7 billion birds annually. These pets also killed from 6.9 to 207 billion small mammals yearly. These predators were house pets that visited eight to ten other homes when put outdoors then returned home at day’s end. The average kill per cat was 100+ kills annually. Some of the kills were for food. others for sport or instinct.
Another alarming result was that feral cats killed 1,000 percent more birds and mammals than the domesticated cats. No one solution to the problem was proposed by the study.
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