Studies Show Outdoor Cats Are Popular Prey For Coyotes

Thursday, March 29, 2012
- 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. 

Tellico Hatchery Announces Winter Hours

Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency announced winter hours for the Tellico Hatchery in Tellico Plains. Holidays along with hours of daylight and alterations in operations are the primary reasons for changes. Fish eat less during colder months. This reason, along with a reduction of seasonal responsibilities such as mowing grass and hatchery upkeep, means fewer people on staff. ... (click for more)

Wildlife Officer Pete Geesling Honored In Veterans Day Observance Ceremony

Brandon “Pete” Geesling, a wildlife officer for the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency in Warren County, was one of five veteran state employees recognized during a Veterans Day observance event held at the Tennessee Tower Plaza.     Previously, Mr. Geesling served as a sergeant in the U.S. Marine Corps. He was a combat engineer which included a deployment ... (click for more)

City Council To Consider Policy That Job Applicants Would Not Have To Reveal Criminal Records

The City Council on Tuesday night will consider a policy that city job applicants would not have to reveal their criminal past. Councilman Yusuf Hakeem cited problems those with felony records have in securing employment. The policy would go into effect by the first of the year. The resolution says: WHEREAS, the City of Chattanooga (the "City") is committed ... (click for more)

City Considering Measure That Would Require City Employees To Be Tennessee Residents

The City Council is considering an ordinance that would require city employees to be residents of the state of Tennessee. The city has employees who live in North Georgia and North Alabama and that is allowed.  If the ordinance is approved by the City Council, it still would need to be okayed by a majority of city voters in an election. The measure will be considered ... (click for more)

An Extra Helping Of Gratitude

After being thankful for the grace of God, my family and good health, this year I have an extra helping of gratitude to live in a special place called Chattanooga.   We endured the trauma of terrorism on July 16 and emerged more united and stronger than ever before.  We claim our heritage and celebrate our diversity like no other city in America.  We honor our ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: We Can’t ‘Ban The Box’

I know a man who has over 20 former convicts from federal prisons who either work for him or who have retired with their dignity, pride, and self-worth restored. Better yet, I know some of them, men who have done “hard time” in prisons so wretched none of us would dare to go. So on the surface I applaud City Councilman Yusef Hakeem for seeing ways to get formerly incarcerated men ... (click for more)