Cats are natural (and superb) hunters, and it usually is seen as an endearing act when they bring in prey for their humans. However, in Australia, cats are apparently a little too talented at bird hunting…to the tune of a million birds a day.
As stated in this report, Charles Darwin University researchers discovered that 316 million birds a year are killed by cats in the wild, and 61 million more were sent to the feathered friend rainbow bridge by domestic cats. A lead researcher in the study, John Woinarski, commented, “Everyone knows that cats kill birds, but this study shows that, at a national level, the amount of predation is staggering.” Both locals and people worldwide are concerned that if this problem continues, some species of birds in Australia could soon become extinct.
Feral cats from down under they are considered an invasive predator, and are believed to have had significant impact on the extinction of the paradise parrot, which was the single mainland species of bird to disappear since the Europeans settled in the country over 200 years ago. Other species of small mammals have been wiped out since then, with the number of feral cats reaching into the millions today. Even in cases when some species of birds and other small mammals were reintroduced into the wild to try to prevent extinction, the tenacious feral felines unfortunately end up hunting them down too.
“We found records of cats killing 338 species of native birds, of which 71 were threatened species. That’s about 60 percent of the threatened species in Australia,” reported Sarah Legge of the Australian National University. So why and how did this become such a problem? Gregory Andrews, a threatened species commissioner, explained that “Australia is the only continent on Earth other than Antarctica where the animals evolved without cats, which is a reason our wildlife is so vulnerable to them. To help bring about a humane solution to the problem, Australia is working on a ‘cat free area’ that is 170,000-acres large, where birds and other predators can be safe from harm, and hopefully begin to repopulate.