Hi All, 

I also made this reply to Jane off list and will share with the rest of the group. I am currently doing research in Urban Panama City, Central America ... specifically "The viability of urban conservation in Tropical Cities". We are looking at both migratory and residential birds ... what types of habitat they use, diversity, and of course vegetative index. We are correlating also the survivability rates of some nestling species ... because our feral cat populations are so large. \

Of course as a scientist I cannot speak to all points made by either Jane or others about ca and wildlife. But I can say a few things with data to back it up and data that is statistically significant (collected in our work)

1. In urban environments in Panama ... there are more species utilizing the urban matrix than most might think. We have recorded over 100 species within the boundary of Panama City ... of which most are residential but some are migratory.

2. Habitat loss in the city is severe and bird species have been delegated to utilize non-native habitat (which is immensely patchy) but have utilized it successfully

3. Fledgling survival rates of many species we have looked at are almost null. The main culprit we have identified are urban feral cat populations. Adult ground nesting birds seem to survive cat attacks fairly well ... fledglings do not. I have seen with 2 years of data almost a 78% death rate in certain species survival rates within Panama City and throughout multiple habitat types. 

4. The only course of action that we have deemed appropriate to control massive kills has been straight culls of the cat population. 

5. There is plenty of research throughout Latin America that speaks directly to feral cat populations in both urban and rural areas and the effect on native.migratory bird populations ... just look via your local library at peer reviewed research ... its abundant.

6. As per the argument of habitat loss. I cannot disagree with Jane and especially in the tropics, that this is not significant. I would also like to point out what others have said or eluded to: We, as bird conservationists, must strive at conserving native/migratory bird populations in every way we can which is CLEARLY a multilateral dynamic approach.

SIDE NOTE: As a dog owner myself and a pet lover I can empathize with the "cat lobby". I do think that you should have the option to responsibly have outdoor time for your cat. In my field though, a unsupervised cat, let loose into the "wilds" (albeit rural or urban) is indeed a disaster for local birdlife (in my case I can speak with authority to this). The problem here is responsibility in the U.S. and in my neck of the woods (Panama) ... simply overwhelming numbers of feral cat populations are destructive. As a cat owner ... I would suggest limited exposure to the out-of-doors, in a fenced backyard where you as the owner can try and control as much of that cats affect on local wildlife as possible. That is your responsibility as a pet owner. Otherwise ... in Panama ... the cats programs that have initiated are 100% cull. 

Questions and comments welcome,

Ezekiel S. Jakub (Zeke)
Resource Management and Conservation, Avian/Tropical
Conservación de Aves Tropicales (Panamá)
U.S. Ph: (413)773-7906
Panama Cell Ph: (507) 649-40106
Panama Home Ph: (507) 221-9941
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On Jan 31, 2013, at 5:31 PM, Jane Stein <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> Thomas, given the really impressive background you just spelled out, I wonder if you might explain something in your previous post that disturbed me and some other readers far more than throwing stuff at intruding cats, and that's your method of choice for killing mice, glue traps and drowning.
> I assume there's a reason you do it this way.  I've struggled against the necessity of killing mice and found no way around it, but I settled on snap traps because they kill quickly and reasonably humanely.  Are those impractical for you in some way?
> Thanks,
> Jane
> On 1/31/2013 8:01 AM, Thomas Berriman wrote:
>> "Let's not forget that cats are only doing what comes naturally.  To
>> talk of "eliminating" them or "run them down on foot picking up rocks
>> and throwing the whole time" is not only cruel and inhumane, but
>> illegal!"
>> Sorry Pamela my post sounded so inhumane. As a 20 year long
>> vegetarian, PETA member and (someone who doesn't even own leather
>> shoes, belt or wallet) I accept and understand the need for some
>> species in our natural world to be 'managed' either through hunting
>> or other forms of control. The 135 million  cats (Wisc. Study)  that
>> are an 'invasive' species (out of doors) need to be managed. I will
>> continue to chase any cat that wonders onto my property and throw
>> anything I happen upon to scare it off. Maybe that is why I have only
>> seen a cat twice in 10 years.
>> Perhaps I am only doing what comes 'naturally' to me as one more
>> species on the planet.
>> As an Audubon chapter president and board member the last 11 years, I
>> have lectured and posted dozens and dozens of informational
>> suggestions and guides on dealing with the invasive species of cats.
>> I will continue to do so at every opportunity. However as I stated
>> before:
>> Cat owners do not get to have it both ways, Cats are either
>> 'wildlife' or pets and what happens in the 'wilds' stays in the
>> wilds.
>> Tom