Feral cats have the instinct to hunt and kill, which makes them a potential threat to other endangered species in the ecosystem. They may have a direct impact on the conservation efforts of these endangered species due to their rising population.
Especially in island habitats, feral cats present various threats to the preservation of biodiversity. Strategies such as implementing international laws on preventing the effects of ferals on endangered species, taking proper ownership of cats, etc., can control and reduce the impact of feral cats on conservation efforts.
Learn more about these here!
How Can Feral Cats Affect Endangered Species?
Through predation and competition for food, feral cats may pose a threat to the conservation of endangered species in a region. As opportunistic hunters, feral cats hunt a variety of wild creatures as prey, including birds, reptiles, fish, mammals, amphibians, and insects like butterflies and dragonflies.
As hunting is their only source of food, research has revealed that feral cats hunt the most, leading to extinction or taking species to the verge of extinction. On several continents, numerous islands, and in populations of particular species, feral cats have particularly played a major role in the loss of native species.
Additionally, additional dangers to wildlife are increased by cat predation, raising the possibility of local or global extinctions. Ecological processes like seed dispersal or native plant pollination can get disrupted when feral cats cause species extinctions in vulnerable and mostly inaccessible island habitats.
Moreover, more than $17 billion is lost annually as a result of cats preying on birds. Cats are to blame for the extinction of at least 33 bird species worldwide, even though the destruction of habitat is the main driver of species extinctions.
However, overexploitation and land destruction by humans have a much greater negative impact on biodiversity than do feral cats.
How to Curb the Effects of Feral Cat Populations on Endangered Species Conservation Efforts?
Feral cats’ effects on endangered species may be controlled effectively using non-lethal techniques such as habitat alteration, exclusion, repellents, frightening devices, traps, and live capture. However, it is the governments and legal authorities that can play a major role in controlling the effects of the feral cat population on endangered species by implementing appropriate wildlife conservation laws.
1. Taking Proper Ownership of Cats
Individuals should adopt responsible pet ownership practices as one of the most crucial strategies to prevent issues with feral cats. All cats must be kept indoors, where they will be safe and unable to damage wildlife. In addition, only as many cats should be kept, that can be fed and cared for at any given time. The cats may be recognized by using collars with tags and chips implanted beneath the skin. This will reduce abandonment and the subsequent invasion of wild habitats where they become feral cats and hunt endangered species.
2. Implementing International Laws
International law presently requires a large number of national governments to establish and put into effect laws intended to avoid, lower, or eliminate the negative effects that feral cats have on endangered species. Removing as many feral and other stray cats from the environment as possible and limiting owned cats’ access to the outdoors are some of the ways by which endangered species can be protected feral cats.
3. Implementing Protected Area Law
Bringing regulations for areas designated as protected zones for species that feral cats may harm can boost the efforts to reduce their effects on endangered species. These laws can be found in various international legal documents as well as national laws all around the world. However, strict implementation of these laws is necessary.
There are several more ways that can lessen or eliminate some of the negative effects of feral cats roaming freely on wildlife. These include immunization, the use of cat bells, fencing, bibs, and other anti-predator tools. Anti-predation tools like CatBib have been shown to drastically lower predation rates in some situations. Such actions may be voluntarily taken or required by law.
Feral cats’ predatory behavior could be hard to control, but measures can be taken to reduce their impact on the conservation of endangered species. Implementing laws that deal with the control of feral cats’ impact on endangered species is the stepping stone toward their conservation.