Studies Show Outdoor Cats Are Popular Prey For Coyotes

Thursday, March 29, 2012
Coyote
Coyote
- photo by USFWS

American Bird Conservancy, the leading bird conservation organization in the United States, advises that as coyotes continue to move into and around large cities such as New York, Chicago, Boston, Washington, D.C., Detroit, Los Angeles, and others, owners of cats should think twice before letting their pet roam free outdoors. Studies show that outdoor cats make up 13-45 percent of coyote diets in those environments.

A study just published in the spring edition of The Wildlife Professional, focuses on the urban coyote reality and references sightings of the carnivore in Central Park and Manhattan. While coyote attacks on humans are rare, the study says that when human attacks have occurred, “…there is a correlation between high percentages of anthropogenic food sources – such as dog food, trash, and domestic cats.” It states further that reducing such incidents might require removing all exterior food sources, including cats.

According to one widely-cited scientific study on cat mortality from coyotes, Observations of Coyote-Cat Interactions by Shannon Grubbs of the University of Arizona and Paul Krausman of the University of Montana, coyotes regularly feed on cats. This study was published in the Journal of Wildlife Management, and chronicles researchers tracking coyotes in Tucson, Arizona, where 36 coyote-cat interactions were observed of which 19 resulted in coyotes killing cats.

Other studies have found that approximately 13% of a coyote’s diet consists of cats. However, in the Grubbs-Krausman study, of the 45 instances where coyotes were observed feeding, 42% of the meals were cats. The researchers concluded that any cat outside is vulnerable to coyote attack, and recommended that cat owners keep their cats indoors.

This finding raises questions about Trap, Neuter, Release programs, where feral cats are caught, neutered, and then released back into the wild. ABC has consistently raised concerns about TNR programs because these cats kill hundreds of millions of birds each year, and also because TNR programs do not provide a humane solution for the cats themselves.

“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,” said Darin Schroeder, ABC’s Vice President of Conservation Advocacy. “Owners who let their pet cat out into their neighbourhoods may be unknowingly ringing the dinner bell to unseen coyotes. We urge states, cities, and communities to reject this inhumane approach to the feral cat problem and instead, require responsible care of pets and the removal of feral cats from the wild."

Despite this risk of predation, TNR has been adopted in areas with large coyote populations. Arizona’s Maricopa County, which is the fourth largest county in the country with nearly four million people, has adopted TNR.

“County officials are wrong when they say TNR is an effective and humane solution,” said Mr. Schroeder. “The truth is that studies repeatedly shows that in almost all cases, TNR fails to eliminate cat colonies because not all the cats can be caught, and because people see these colonies as places they can dump their unwanted and usually un-neutered cat., The reality is that TNR perpetuates many of the problems caused by feral cats, including risks to human and health, public nuisance, and the predation of birds and other wildlife. Feral and free-roaming cats kill hundreds of millions of our nation’s birds each year, putting additional pressure on the populations of many species that are in decline.”

American Bird Conservancy has produced a short film “Trap, Neuter, and Release: Bad for Cats, Disaster for Birds,” which reveals how Trap, Neuter, and Release is failing to substantially reduce cat numbers despite advocates’ claims, and is contributing to the deaths of an estimated 500 million birds each year. In addition, cats have been responsible for the extinction of an estimated 33 species of birds. 



Master Gardeners Of Hamilton County Offer Free Gardening Classes

The Master Gardeners of Hamilton County (MGHC), in association with the University of Tennessee Extension, extend their outreach with a series of Third Saturday Free Gardening Classes.  On Oct. 21, from 10 a.m.-noon, master gardener Bertha Livingston leads “Children in the Garden,” a workshop for adult/child partners.  MGHC classes take place at the UT Extension, ... (click for more)

New TV Series Puts National Spotlight On Outdoor Adventures In Georgia

The Georgia Department of Economic Development’s Tourism division teamed up with the new travel show ‘The Excursion with David Zelski’ to put a spotlight on Georgia’s outdoor adventures. This new travel show airs regionally on Fox Sports Southeast and on Discovery’s Destination America.  A full list of episodes including air dates and times is available on  ExploreGeorgia.org ... (click for more)

$125 Million County School Building Plan Includes Shifting CSLA To Tyner Middle; Combining Tyner High/Middle; New Harrison Elementary, New East Hamilton Middle

Hamilton County School officials on Thursday unveiled a $125 million building plan that includes moving the Chattanooga School for the Liberal Arts to the current Tyner Middle School, which will undergo a major renovation. Tyner Middle will move across the street into Tyner High School. Both Tyner buildings have been under-utilized for a number of years. There will also be ... (click for more)

Signal Mountain Committee Says Pulling Away From County Schools Is "Feasible"

After eight months of investigating the viability of Signal Mountain establishing a separate school district, a committee of six has determined that it is feasible and would meet the goal of improving the education provided to students. The committee was also tasked with identifying obstacles and if possible to find ways to overcome them.  Results of the report were presented ... (click for more)

The Deer Decline At Enterprise South Nature Park

There are now 11 fewer deer to see at Enterprise Nature Park. The hunters snuck another one in secretly so as not to cause controversy.   I go to that park three or four times a week, and haven't seen any deer for months, and I used to see them all the time. They had to put out "salt licks" to attract deer from surrounding areas outside the park. Then they killed them ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: New Schools On Agenda

Hamilton County School Superintendent Bryan Johnson confirmed on Wednesday that a plan for several new public schools will be included on Thursday night’s School Board agenda. Hamilton County has fallen woefully behind other metro school districts in the state and, with an estimated $340 million in deferred repairs, upgrading facilities - that now average over 40 years old - was ... (click for more)