Monday, May 20, 2013

Feral cats: ruthless killers or man's best friend?

Man's new best friend?
A study in the journal Nature Communications finds that feral cats are killing billions of animals in the United States each year. The authors lament the impact this indiscriminate killing has on biodiversity, yet neglect to address the potential benefit that this may have on disease prevention.

Rodents act as a natural reservoir for many zoonotic diseases, including Lyme, and reductions in their populations due to feral cat predation may also reduce prevalence and transmission of disease. This "service" may be especially important given the loss of other meso-predators, like foxes, from many ecosystems.

While their impact on biodiversity is certainly lamentable, and reintroduction of native predators a better solution to the problem, it is worth considering the broader impacts of feral cats in the species-poor, predator-free ecosystems that many have come to inhabit

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