Tuesday, September 09, 2014

State of the Birds 2014 & Audubon Birds and Climate Change reports

Two new bird reports for someone to dissect! . . . . .

Birds and Climate Change (or global warming) from National Audubon Society, and

State of the Birds 2014 from "the nation's top bird science and conservation groups:"
American Bird Conservancy
Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies
Cornell Lab of Ornithology
Ducks Unlimited
Environment Canada
Klamath Bird Observatory
National Audubon Society
National Park Service
North American Bird Conservation Initiative, U.S. Committee
North American Waterfowl Management Plan
Partners in Flight
Point Blue Conservation Science
Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory
Smithsonian Institution
The Nature Conservancy
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
USDA Forest Service
U.S. Geological Survey
U.S. Shorebird Conservation Plan

News comment on the Audubon report:

ABC News > Global Warming Bye Bye Birdies
The report is not yet peer-reviewed, which is crucial in science. It has been sent to a scientific journal but has not yet been accepted. However, Langham said it is based on a report Audubon did last year that was commissioned by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Duke University ecologist Stuart Pimm dismissed the study as too general, poorly executed and not that new. But other scientists, such as Stanford University biologist Terry Root, said the Audubon report makes sense and looks trustworthy. A third biologist, A. Townsend Peterson of the University of Kansas, faulted some of the methods used but praised the overall comprehensiveness of the study

For the State of the Birds 2014 report as relates to the Feral Cat Blog!:
A bar chart, similar to past offerings, shows top causes of human-caused bird mortality AFTER habitat loss. (Leading vocal opponents of freeroam cat and Trap Neuter Return have long networked to place cats at the top of their list.) This chart says the data is adapted from another new report IN PREPARATION by vocal freeroam cat / Trap Neuter Return opponents Loss Will Marra: "Loss SR, Will T, Marra PP. Direct human-caused mortality of birds. Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics In prep." (Cat opponents continue to release select info to media using various strategies.) Unfortunately new misinformation is frequently incorporated and repeated as fact in news, reports or journal articles.

All humans who will can change their behaviors to help the earth and all its inhabitants via simple and nonlethal, nontoxic solutions. Just a few: Spay/neuter cats and dogs, owned and unowned. Keep owned cats indoors, contained or supervised as possible (with enrichment.) Learn more about and understand natural behaviors of animals wild or domestic. Co-exist in harmony with wildlife, it's their home too. Don't feed birds and wildlife unless there's a compelling reason (rarely.) Keep garbage contained and dumpsters covered. Close up openings to houses. The best solution to so-called pest and nuisance animals is prevention.

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previous related Feral Cat Blog! posts: use search at top menu bar with keywords birds, avian mortality, bird deaths, cat predation, Scott Loss, Tom Will, Pete Marra, Partners in Flight, US Fish and Wildlife Service FWS, Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies AFWA (fishwildlife.org,) USDA Wildlife Services, American Bird Conservancy ABC, the Wildlife Society TWS, Smithsonian, Audubon, NABCI, Pete Blancher, Environment Canada, and many more!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Cat tracker project NCSU Kays et al

Animal tracking or citizen science projects can sound fun or informative. A few concerns I’ve voiced are an unwitting public who may not realize the true purpose of some projects, frightening or harassing animals with capture and gadget placement in or on them, and the proliferation of surveillance (cameras) everywhere -- watch what you do, whether urban suburban exurban rural or wilderness areas!

Unfortunately another cat tracking project, crowdsourced mapping using GPS collars, was mentioned in early 2014. Roland Kays* is a Conservation Wildlife professor at North Carolina State University, a researcher and biodiversity lab director at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, and research associate for the Smithsonian. He has used tracking devices on animals for some time, around the world as well as in North Carolina. (* The 2004 Kays and Dewan paper, Ecological impact of inside/outside house cats around a suburban nature preserve, is cited periodically by feral cat stakeholders.) Kays leads eMammal (Smithsonian Wild) from which came the Cat Tracker project.

On the North Carolina Partners in Flight (PIF) website:
Presentation on cats August 28 Raleigh
On Thursday, August 28 [2014] at 2:30 pm in the WRC auditorium on Centennial Campus, Dr. Roland Kays (NCMNS/NCSU) will present "How big of a problem are cats for wildlife conservation in North Carolina?", results from his eMammal camera trapping project.
From the announcement:
Domestic cats are estimated to kill billions of native birds and mammals in the United States each year. Is this a problem our land managers should be concerned about? This question hinges on where exactly cats go when they hunt - are they killing common species on private land, or picking off rare species in protected areas? We have been studying this question from two angles. First, our eMammal citizen science camera trapping project has surveyed over 2000 sites across six states, including 32 protected areas, and over 50 North Carolinian back yards. Second, our new Cat Tracker project has used inexpensive GPS tracking devices to track over 50 pet cats for one week each. I will summarize results from both ongoing projects, and suggest future lines of research.
tagged cats, free-roaming cats, outdoor cats in newsletter, twitter

A separate project from the NCSU conservation class:
Conservation Biology in Practice
Controversies in Conservation Series

Our class will organize, publicize, and lead three public forum discussions of current hot topics in conservation biology.
The Series – All are on Mondays from 9.30-10.45 in 3214 Jordan Addition
• Conservation triage (22 September). .....
• Coyote night hunts in North Carolina (20 October). .....
• Bird-killing cats (24 November). House cats are known to kill birds and may be having significant effects on populations of songbirds, including some rare species. Should we kill feral cats? Should we let cats outdoors? Should we worry about our songbirds in areas with cats?
Some related news articles or websites:

NCSU scientists track the movement of animals to learn how they adapt to urban areas
February 5, 2014
Page Harris, Correspondent

Watch: How Far Do Your Cats Roam?
NC project exposes the secret life of cats

By Jay Price
July 11, 2014

The new Cat Tracker project maps outdoor movements of pet felines.
Jennifer S. Holland for National Geographic
August 7, 2014

Sci Starter (Science for Citizens) blog > Cat Tracker Nine simultaneous lives of cats
Science Starter Project 967 > Cat Tracker

The nonlethal solutions have long been available, see my recurring posts on comprehensive Community Cat Management programs and actions!

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for previous related posts, search the Feral Cat Blog! with keywords Kitty Cam, remote camera, camera trap, community cat management, opposition, and many more!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

UGA Kitty Cams Jekyll Island update

Reference my April 2014 post UGA Kitty Cams 2.0 funded by ASPCA and ABC and multiple posts about Kitty Cams or search with keywords remote camera or camera trap.

May 19, 2014

Historic Preservation/Conservation Committee: Committee Chair Krueger called on Ben Carswell, Conservation Director. Mr. Carswell briefly recapped the Board on the grant research project introduced at last month’s Board meeting regarding feral cats, as he introduced PhD student Clem Gatrell, from the University of Georgia, School of Forestry and Natural Resources. Gatrell is monitoring free-roaming cats on the island utilizing video cameras mounted on small harnesses to record predatory behaviors on wildlife. Domestic cats have been shown to drastically affect local populations of songbirds and other native wildlife. Approximately 60 cats will be studied.
Mr. Krueger asked Mr. Gatrell if recommendations will be provided from the study. Mr. Gatrell replied the information will be utilized for journals. Management will determine if the research is useful in helping to make informed decisions.
Chairman Royal opened the floor to public comment. Dr. Parsons, resident of the island, inquired as to the length of the study, if he was aware that residents may be feeding the stray cats, and if the data will be compared to studies from other islands. Mr. Gatrell responded December 2014, unless additional funding is provided; yes he is aware of the feedings; no just this island.

JICANet Update
Vol XV, #27
June 5, 2014

Gene introduced Ben Carswell, JIA Director of Conservation who opened by introducing the other speakers, Lydia Thompson and Clym Gatrell. Each spoke about a particular aspect of animal life on Jekyll Lydia Thompson reviewed the activities of Operation Plover Patrol. ...

... Ben introduced Clym who is from the University of Georgia and will be doing a study of the cat population on Jekyll and the cats’ possible impact on native wildlife. His study is being sponsored by the ASPCA, the American Bird Conservancy and the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources at UGA. He has no agenda other than studying the behavior of outdoor cats on the island. Clym spoke about the study of the cat population (feral and other outdoor cats). There are 4 basic categories of cats: 1) Feral cats that were born and live in the wild. They may not be regularly fed. 2) Colonies of outdoor cats that are more acclimated to humans and are fed regularly. These cats are spayed or neutered. 3) House cats that are allowed outside but live with a human. 4) House cats that live totally indoors. Clym pointed out several facts related to the study he will do: Even domestic cats are predators. The number of cats in the U.S. has tripled. This study is based on a similar study done recently in Athens, GA. Some of the footage from the kitty cams was put online for people to view. He will also look at cat’s risky behavior (such as crossing a street).
In 2010 there were approximately 5-600 feral cats on Jekyll. Thanks largely in part to the Allisons, that number is now down to approximately 150. John Allison is assisting Clym with some aspects of the study. National Geographic is supplying the kitty-cams that will be used. The collars will have a GPS type monitor so they can be located if they come off a cat. What he hopes to accomplish: Phase 1 - get about 30 hours of footage from selected cats. Phase 2 - identify a set of hunter cats and obtain about 70 hours of footage to try to determine when, what and how much they hunt. Phase 3 - Assess what is the primary prey being hunted and what if any impact it has on the population of that prey. Clym asked for the residents help with a survey he will send out. Completing one will help him with his study.

From the UGA Hernandez lab students webpage:
UGA & NGS Kitty Cams Project

Clym Gatrell

His PhD research is with a KittyCam project taking place on Jekyll Island. He is also interested in the effects of domestic and feral cats on bird submissions to wildlife rehabilitation centers. Clym is motivated by the need to bridge the gaps between different disciplines within the scientific community and work towards a larger understanding of the most important questions of global health.

Interesting post on Living Stingy, a blog of Robert Platt Bell, Patent Attorney in Jekyll Island, Georgia Invasive Species - July 6 2014 that I learned about on Death of a Million Trees.

Guess I need to obtain a copy of the survey!

Sizemore ABC opinion to Escambia commissioners: feral cats a threat to humans and wildlife

Escambia County Florida has been considering an ordinance related to feedings dogs and cat outside and to authorize a Community Cat Management initiative which includes Trap Neuter Return. Nothing new and for the record, here is the latest opinion piece from a leading opponent of freeroam cats and Trap Neuter Return, this in the Pensacola News Journal: Viewpoint: Feral cats a threat to humans and wildlife. The letter from Grant Sizemore of American Bird Conservancy (now called Director of Invasive Species Programs, he started as Cats Indoors Program Officer around Jan 2013) concludes with
It is my hope that the Board of County Commissioners will consider the many negative consequences of TNR and select a more effective path forward that will simultaneously benefit the county’s cats, wildlife, and people.
but as often, offers no solutions. ABC's current suggestions can be found on their website, 2013 presentation, latest brochure and letter to the US Department of the Interior (calling for removal.)

Sizemore also references the letter to Escambia commissioners from US Fish and Wildlife Service (Panama City Field Office) advising them against implementing TNR (the July commissioner and public discussion was abruptly cancelled.) ABC had publicly applauded USFWS for this letter. Much has been made of the USFWS claim in 2011 that they have no feral cat/TNR policy. Search the Feral Cat Blog! for the multiple old and renewed strategies by the network of opponents to freeroam cats and TNR (which includes some FWS staff) and efforts to get US government wildlife and land agencies to implement and enforce a policy. In the most recent (January 2014) versions the words "removal" (ABC) and "eradication" (TWS and SCB) were finally said as I then pointed out.

On August 21 the Escambia commissioners voted to hold a public hearing on September 4, 2014. Best Friends Animal Society and Alley Cat Allies previously did action alerts.

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Recurring Feral Cat Blog! statements:

Nonlethal and nontoxic solutions to all earth challenges have long been available! As promoted for years on Feral Cats in the News ~ the Feral Cat Blog! and on Cat Management in Communities or Community Cat Management:

Community Cat Management

A prevention AND solution action for cities, counties, communities is to immediately implement or support comprehensive cat management programs that promote CONCURRENTLY:

* spay neuter, identification, and containment as possible (with appropriate enrichment) or supervision for 'owned' cats, and
* Trap-Neuter-RETURN-Manage (TNRM) for unowned cats.
* covered dumpsters and garbage containers

An owned cat program (and the whole community animal management program) has always included pet retention, helping people keep pets for life -- as my slogan since 2001 has indicated:

Help End Animal Homelessness and Killing ~
Neuter/Spay and Keep Pets for Life!

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My website created in 2004, Cat Management in Communities or Community Cat Management, was inspired by what I learned in 2001 from Bob Christiansen in his 1998 book, "Save Our Strays: How We Can End Pet Overpopulation and Stop Killing Healthy Cats and Dogs," a very helpful, comprehensive resource, and the first blueprint.

small mammals in Spartanburg urban greenways may face low cat predation risk

Posting some of the items I've read over past months:

Tenth Annual SC Upstate Undergraduate Research Symposium
April 2014


Abundance of Carnivorous Mammals in Urban Greenways and Rural Forests
Joseph M. Morrissey, Samantha L. Poarch, and Jonathan J. Storm
Division of Natural Sciences and Engineering
University of South Carolina Upstate
Spartanburg, South Carolina

Abstract – Small mammals often face a high risk of predation in urban environments, particularly from feral and domestic cats (Felis domesticus). Other predators in urban forests include gray foxes (Urocyon cinereoargenteus), red foxes (Vulpes vulpes) and coyotes (Canis latrans). Our previous work suggests that white-footed mice face a greater risk of predation within urban greenways than rural forests of Spartanburg County. We sought to determine if predators are more prevalent within these urban greenways than rural forests. We surveyed carnivorous mammals in urban and rural forests using wildlife cameras. Three cameras were placed in riparian habitat in urban greenways and three cameras were placed in rural forests. All six sites were located in Spartanburg County, SC. During June - August of 2013, cameras were baited with a 1:1 mixture of catnip oil and canola oil. The cameras were then left unbaited for September – December of 2013. Feral and domestic cat detections were rare and there was no significant different in cat activity between
catnip-baited and unbaited wildlife cameras. In addition, we did not find a significant difference in activity for any carnivore species between urban greenways and rural forests. There was, however, a non-significant trend for greater coyote and red fox activity in urban greenways. Our results suggest that small mammals within urban greenways in Spartanburg may face a low risk of predation from feral and domestic cats.

Keywords — Carnivore, Urban Greenway, Predation, Cats


We found that feral and domestic cats were rare within both urban greenways and rural forests. Our data suggest that coyote, red fox, and gray fox activity may be higher in urban greenways than at rural forests, but we will need to obtain more data to confirm a significant difference. Our results have low statistical power and we will be adding more study sites in the future to gain a better understanding of carnivore activity within urban greenways.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Resource Equivalency Analysis for cat control program as compensatory mitigation for incidental take of songbirds

Another title for this blog post could be Hot Mess: Solar Tower, Bird/Wildlife Deaths and Cats

The process for the controversial Palen solar electric generating project [California Energy Commission Docket Number 09-AFC-07C] and its related feral cat predation aspect are fascinating (on one level!) The project would be sited on 3,794 acres (almost 6 square miles?) of public land managed by the BLM near Desert Center California and Joshua Tree National Park in eastern Riverside County. How many feral cats are even in this desert area, isn't it low human habitancy? What are the impacts to desert wildlife and birds from habitat destruction, impact with towers, solar flux? There is a report out on wildlife damage at Ivanpah in San Bernadino County, another BrightSource Energy solar project, as well as a federal study confirming the hazard of aviation glare from Ivanpah.

Some interesting points about the Palen Solar Tower Project for the Feral Cat Blog! are
* why feral cats came up as an impact. Again, how many are there now or will be drawn there from human activities? (in a fairly brief search I didn't find any original project info about cats.)
* what seems like a diversion by Erickson and Levenstein (reps for applicant solar company) to imply impacts from the solar project as lesser than other causes of avian mortality by repeating the Loss, Marra, Will claim that cats are the number one cause of avian mortality (per Erickson, after climate change and habitat loss.)
* the creation by Erickson (with Rabie) of a Resource Equivalency Analysis (REA) for a cat control program as compensatory mitigation for incidental take of songbirds "that equates bird mortality with a feral cat removal or neutering (spaying) program."
* the responses of California Energy Commission staff and several intervenors to testimony of Erickson and Levenstein, especially American Bird Conservancy who find the mitigation proposal insufficient because they believe "removal is far superior to spaying and the only sure way to control feral cat populations."

[For awareness, Erickson coauthored the 2005 USDA paper, A Summary and Comparison of Bird Mortality from Anthropogenic Causes with an Emphasis on Collisions, before the 2013/2014 culmination of effort by the freeroam cat/TNR opposition network to create estimates and "journal-published", "peer-reviewed" papers on human-caused avian mortality.]

Here are excerpts from some of the July 2014 documents, always read entire!

Ex.1134 - Biological Resources Supplemental Opening Testimony Wally P. Erickson and Dr. Ken Levenstein - Avian Impacts

As identified by many bird conservation groups, feral cats represent a significant threat to bird and other wildlife populations. See Exhibit 1163, letter from American Bird Conservancy, National Audubon Society, and others to the US Secretary or Interior, and Exhibit 1164, letter from the American Bird Conservancy to the US Secretary of Interior. After reviewing the letters, WEST developed a resource equivalency analysis that equates bird mortality to a feral cat removal or neutering (spaying) program (see Attachment A). PSEGS is not proposing to conduct its own feral cat program, but believes the TAC could direct funding to existing or new programs that can have a significant positive effect on passerines and songbirds to adequately mitigate the mortality impacts the PSEGS could have on those groups of birds. The current version of Condition of Certification BIO-16a, developed by the Commission Staff and agreed to by PSH, provides the flexibility of the TAC to direct funding to animal control programs.

Determining the number of songbirds taken per cat per year is difficult because predation is difficult to observe. Estimates of cat predation rates on songbirds range from 4 to more than 100 per year (Exhibit 1165), again, with most published estimates assumed to be conservative (i.e., low). We used a value near the middle of the range of reported rates to calculate the number of songbirds expected to be taken by a female cat, her daughters, and her matrilineal granddaughters (see Attachment A). Each generation is calculated independently of the others, so the number of songbird mortalities resulting from one cat plus one generation of her female offspring is 112 + 874 = 986 songbird mortalities per female cat. Alternatively, if a neutering program is used, and songbird credits are calculated over two generations of offspring, 874 songbirds may be saved per female cat spayed.

By including two generations of offspring in the analysis, a spaying program alone could result in 874+20,618 songbirds saved per female cat. Attachment A and the values presented here are in terms of female cats produced per female. If a cat control or spaying and neutering program is implemented for both sexes, as is likely to be the case, total credits would be half of what is calculated here. This is conservative inasmuch as male cat-years in generations two and three are not counted towards the bird credit. Clearly, as suggested by the bird conservation groups in the previously-mentioned letters, contributions to programs designed to reduce bird mortality from feral cats could greatly benefit birds, especially songbirds.
Attachment A at the end of the above document is:
A primer on Resource Equivalency Analysis and its application to a cat control program as compensatory mitigation for incidental take of songbirds
Paul Rabie and Wally Erickson – WEST Inc.
Resource equivalency analysis (REA) is a modeling strategy that allows ‘apples to apples’ comparisons among apparently dissimilar resources. In this document we construct a prototypical equivalency model that relates cats to songbirds through the process of predation.

American Bird Conservancy responds to the PSEGS Biological Resources Supplemental Opening Testimony of Erickson and Levenstein:


Unfortunately, the proposal is insufficient and fails to heed the major point of the referenced ABC letters. The testimony states that “after reviewing the letters, WEST developed a resource equivalency analysis that equates bird mortality to a feral cat removal or neutering (spaying) program.” This analysis and overall recommendation to remove or neuter/spay feral cats fails in several important ways.
•The assumption that removal and neutering/spaying are fundamentally equivalent ecologically or as a control method is inaccurate. Removal is far superior and the only sure way to control feral cat populations.
•The referenced letters, signed by ABC and others, specifically request that feral cats be removed from the environment and never re-abandoned. When not removed, feral cats continue to kill wildlife and to perpetuate public health risks (e.g., rabies, toxoplasmosis).
•The analysis does not cite sources and makes questionable assumptions about feral cat behavior and survival probabilities.

Laura Cunningham
Kevin Emmerich
On Page 5- “After the effects of climate change and habitat loss, studies to date have indicated the highest mortality of birds due to anthropogenic causes comes from predation by domestic and feral cats (Loss et al. 2013) followed closely behind by collisions with windows (e.g., from houses, office towers, commercial structures; Klem 2009).”
One of the ways BrightSource intends to mitigate or offset flux kills for songbirds is by spaying and neutering feral cats. Feral cat populations are not likely to be large in the Chuckwalla Valley due to predators like coyotes, so this mitigation would have to take place elsewhere. Specifically, this mitigation would not be meaningful in areas outside of the Colorado River section of the Pacific Flyway.
Compensatory mitigation of spaying and neutering feral domestic cats in urbanized settings would not compensate for the deaths of songbirds at the Palen site. The species of birds would be very different. Cats prey mostly on common urban species that are often introduced from Europe such as house sparrows. The Palen site would have native desert species such as loggerhead shrikes, black-throated sparrows, verdins, and blue-gray gnatcatchers. Destruction of desert bird habitat and solar flux mortality in a wild desert valley will not be mitigated by controlling cat populations in urban areas, urban fringes and small communities. These areas are quite different than un-fragmented desert ecosystems. BrightSource has not provided a list of songbird species that would be saved with this mitigation.
Furthermore, it seems to be a value judgment on the part of the applicant to suggest that this mitigation would somehow provide ecological compensation for the damage inflicted by their proposed project. To simply say the solar flux kills and injuries would not be as significant if feral cats are sterilized avoids the actual challenge of finding a mitigation that works – which the applicant has failed to find.

[California Energy Commission] Staff's Rebuttal Testimony

[two excerpts, always read entire]
Other Anthropogenic Sources of Avian Mortality
In an attempt to reduce the significance of mortality caused by PSEGS, the Petitioner provides mortality numbers from wind farms, hunting, feral cats, and a suite of other anthropogenic sources (See Exhibit 1157 TN 202506). The Petitioner states: “It is very important to put these numbers into some context. In fact, the most significant concern over impacts to many wildlife populations, including birds, is over the effects of climate change (Foden et al. 2013) and habitat loss (BirdLife International website).” (TN 202484 Page 4)
Staff is aware of the risk to birds from the anthropogenic sources provided by the Petitioner and global climate change. However, staff believes referencing nationwide mortality estimates and comparing avian loss to low-risk, managed species such as ducks (non-sensitive species that are extensively managed and regulated by resource agencies) or loss from collisions with windows or vehicles obfuscates the risk to birds from PSEGS. Many of the species present in the PSEGS area are sensitive and regulated by state and or federal agencies because their populations have declined or are at risk of extinction. The Petitioner suggested that “Studies like Longcore et al. (2013) and Erickson et al. (2014, in review) suggest that avian mortality cumulatively from thousands of communication towers and wind turbines for the great majority of waterfowl, songbirds, and waterbirds, is a relatively minor source of mortality for individual species populations.” This statement may be true for robust common species but does not account for local populations of sensitive birds where the removal of a small number of birds may affect the persistence or recovery of a local population. It is inappropriate to dilute impacts to species that may be subject to mortality at PSEGS by comparing them to nationwide mortality estimates.
Assertions by the Petitioner that PSEGS has lower risk factors (TN 202484 Page 5-6) because the facility does not appear to be in a high bird use area, does not have guy wires, and the towers are solid rather than composed of lattice steel is overstated. The towers are approximately 750 feet tall and structures such as these represent a documented collision risk. The use of intermittent red lighting on the towers is a requirement and while this would reduce collision risk it would not eliminate collision events. Staff believes the contention that PSEGS has lower avian use is misleading.
The data collected by the Petitioner is extremely useful and represents a solid effort to collect data. However, one year of surveys cannot fully account for the migratory use of the PSEGS region. Migration counts are often highly variable, from hour to hour, day to day, and year to year, in large part due to variability in weather conditions that provide lift for raptor migration or concentrate birds in certain landscape features. More importantly surveys conducted by the Petitioner documented 185 species of birds including 32 species considered sensitive at the state or federal level. Some of these
include the state listed Swainson’s hawk, bank swallow, willow flycatcher, and Gila woodpecker. Two fully protected species including the golden eagle and peregrine falcon were also observed. Six federal priority shorebirds were observed at the ponds adjacent to the PSEGS. At a minimum this demonstrates the area is used by a wide variety of resident and migratory species.
The Petitioner stated: “PSEGS has voluntarily committed compensatory mitigation funds to help offset bird mortality that occurs due to operations at the Project. These funds will be directed to programs that benefit birds of taxa similar to those impacted by the project. For example, if songbirds incur fatalities, contributions will be made to programs that benefit songbirds.” (TN 202482 Page 11)

Staff has provided previous testimony regarding the development of mitigation to reduce impacts to resident and migratory birds and recommends the TAC be used to focus mitigation efforts for target species. Implementing mitigation such as spaying or neutering of feral cats (TN 202482 Page 13) would reduce impacts to some groups of birds but staff cautions many of the bird deaths reported likely occur in urban areas where many sensitive native species have already been displaced. Mitigation efforts may be better focused on habitat creation or bird management activities.

K. Shawn Smallwood Rebuttal Testimony [for Center for Biological Diversity]

. . . In summary, Erickson and Levenstein’s predicted impact of 1,700 birds per year is not believable.

Beginning on page 4 and continuing through page 5, Erickson and Levenstein argued that the Palen impacts will be minimal in light of other anthropogenic causes of wildlife mortality, such as dogs and cats and cars and buildings. The argument made by Erickson and Levenstein appeared intended to downplay the impacts solar energy generation on avian species, but actually helped make the case that Palen’s project impacts will be cumulatively considerable. I agree that the anthropogenic impacts described by Erickson and Levenstein are devastating, but I disagree that they justify the deaths of thousands of birds and unknown numbers of bats at the Palen project.

Erickson and Levenstein identified a series of measures that will be funded to reduce impacts to the types of animals that will be killed by Palen. These measures included marking fences, neutering cats, marking power lines, marking windows, and retrofitting power poles. However, there was little in the way of any nexus described between the conservation benefits of these measures and the project impacts caused by Palen. Will enough cats be neutered to save as many birds as will be killed at Palen? Will they benefit the same species or populations?

On page 14 Erickson and Levenstein proposed numbers of songbirds that could be saved by neutering a single female cat. The numbers were very large, and difficult to believe would translate to real birds in the wild. It was a large leap in logic to assume that the number of young never born to a neutered cat would go unreplaced by kittens born to another cat. In other words, the cat population will compensate for some of its members being neutered, just as cat populations have always done this. I am fully supportive of neutering feral house cats, but I think it is misleading to claim that the numbers of birds not killed by the cat’s prevented offspring will be spared the cats that are not neutered. Some benefit to birds will be realized by neutering, but not at the levels claimed by Erickson and Levenstein.

Some other cat-related documents (I was already familiar with their content):




plus the two letters to USDOI from conservation groups that I shared when they came out! (see below)

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related previous Feral Cat Blog! posts:

search blog with keywords such as avian mortality, bird mortality, bird deaths, cat predation, environmental, Pimentel, and many more!

TWS and SCB letter to DOI to eradicate feral cats

Freeroam cats on public lands ABC to DOI

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Inside or outside cats marketing approach > Consumer Perceptions

started this post May 23! At the February 2014 meeting of the Oregon Invasive Species Council:

11. Jill Mosteller – Connecting with the Consumer Stakeholders

Jill presented her research findings regarding cat­‐owner decisions for the cats to be “inside” or “outside” cats.

Jill advised me a larger sample of cat owners has been collected with findings to be submitted for publication this summer.

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some previous related Feral Cat Blog! posts:

International Society of Anthrozoology July 2013 Conference > cats - October 2013
Oral 2. Animal Welfare. Part I
Title: Cats Inside-Only or Inside and Out? Cat Owners Prevention and Promotion Motivations
Authors: Jill Mosteller and Karen Kraus
Affiliations: Portland State University and Feral Cat Coalition of Oregon, USA

Cats Safe at Home Portland Audubon and Feral Cat Coalition of Oregon - January 2014

Feral Cat Management: What Works? > Vertebrate Pest Conference Mar 2014 - November 2013
scroll down to Sallinger (Audubon) presentation

Good for Cats, Good for Wildlife - April 2008

Cats Indoors Audubon N Virginia, ABC, Fairfax Co Animal Shelter - April 2014

and many more! simply use search box at left of top blue menu bar with various keywords

Identifying people’s most preferred management technique for feral cats in Hawaii

"Identifying people’s most preferred management technique for feral cats in Hawaii" according to Lepczyk, Lohr, Cox, opponents of freeroam cats and Trap Neuter Return. This is a continuation of the project Desires and Management Preferences of Stakeholders Regarding Feral Cats in the Hawaiian Islands.

Human–Wildlife Interactions 8(1):56–66, Spring 2014
Identifying people’s most preferred management technique for feral cats in Hawaii
Cheryl A. Lohr, 1 Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Management, University
of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, HI 96822 USA
Christopher A. Lepczyk, Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Management,
University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA
Linda J. Cox, Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Management, University of
Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA

Abstract: Feral cats (Felis catus) are abundant in many parts of the world and pose a threat to native wildlife. Human–wildlife conflicts regarding how feral cats should be managed have increased recently. In Hawaii, previous research has revealed that most residents would like to see the feral cat abundance reduced, but opinions differ regarding which techniques are acceptable for achieving this. This paper describes an analytical hierarchy process that combines rankings of decision criteria by Hawaii’s residents with expert knowledge of the costs and benefits associated with 7 techniques (live-capture and adoption, live-capture and lethal injection, live-capture and lethal gunshot, trap-neuter-release [TNR]), lethal traps, predatorproof
fence, and sharpshooter) for reducing feral cat abundance. We used a state-wide surveywith 1,369 respondents and in-person surveys with 11 wildlife professionals to gather data for the model. Inconsistency values were below 0.1 for data from both the state-wide survey and the survey of wildlife professionals. Sensitivity analysis revealed that the model was not sensitive to changes in the public’s ranking of the decision criteria, because when data were averaged all decision criteria became equally important. The final ranking of the management techniques was dominated by the costs and benefits of each technique. Lethal traps were ranked as the best technique, and TNR was ranked as the worst technique.

Key words: analytical hierarchy process, expert knowledge, human–wildlife conflicts, multicriteria decision making, structured decision making, trap-neuter-release, wildlife management

download full text Lohr Et Al Spring 2014

Human Wildlife Interactions is a publication of the Berryman Institute. I wrote Berryman Institute many years ago, hoping they would be working more toward nonlethal solutions for animals; they did not reply.

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previous related Feral Cat Blog! posts: as always, use the search function with various keywords

Threats to Native Birds from Cats per Sizemore ABC

continuing presentations from vocal opponents to freeroam cats and Trap Neuter Return:

at University of Virginia Blandy Experimental Farm in July 2014:

Threats to Native Birds from Domestic Cats and Other Sources
Thursday, July 10, 3-4:30 p.m.
Grant Sizemore, American Bird Conservancy
Did you know domestic cats are the largest direct source of human-caused mortality in birds? Hear about the threat to birds from cats and other sources and learn what you can do.
FOSA members $10, nonmembers $12

Blandy 2014 Summer Programs

FOSA is Foundation of the State Arboretum of Virginia

All stakeholders want fewer cats outdoors but some use misinformation to achieve their goals. The Feral Cat Blog! has always urged containment or supervision of owned cats as possible (must provide enrichment!) as part of multiple initiatives for owned cats concurrently with nonlethal solutions for unowned cats.

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previous related Feral Cat Blog! posts using keyword grant sizemore

as always, enter other keywords in the search box at left of top blue menu bar.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Pets need visual permanent ID

The Veterinary Journal
Available online 13 May 2014
In Press, Accepted Manuscript

Use of visual and permanent identification for pets by veterinary clinics
P.A. Dingman, J.K. Levy, , L.E. Rockey, M.M. Crandal
l Maddie's Shelter Medicine Program, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32610, USA
Accepted 30 April 2014, Available online 13 May 2014


It is estimated that more than 3 million stray dogs and cats enter animal shelters in the USA each year, but less than half are ever reunited with their owners. Lost pets with identification microchips are up to 21 times more likely to be reunited than those without. Finders of lost pets are more likely to consult veterinarians than shelters for assistance, and pet owners look first to veterinarians for advice regarding pet health, protection, and welfare. An on-line survey of 1,086 veterinary clinics in South-Eastern USA was conducted to evaluate how veterinary clinics functioned as a part of the pet identification network. Scanning and microchip implants were offered by 91% of surveyed clinics and 41% used ‘global’ scanners capable of detecting all currently used microchip brands. Clinics more frequently relied on pet owners to register contact information rather than providing this service for clients (52% vs. 43%, respectively). Even though lost dogs are more likely to be reunited with owners than lost cats, microchips and collars were more likely to be recommended for all dogs (85% and 93%, respectively) than for all cats (67% and 61%, respectively). Only half of clinics that recommended identification collars made them available to their clients. Veterinarians can protect animals, pet owners and the human-animal bond by integrating pet identification into preventive health care.

Pet identification; Microchip; Radio frequency identification device; Collar; Identification tag
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I've shared before the 1998 book that was and is a blueprint or outline to "Save Our Strays: How We Can end Pet Overpopulation and Stop Killing Healthy Cats and Dogs" by Bob Christiansen:

Programs that Save Animal Lives
1. Effective leadership.
2. Effective community organization and program coordination
3. Proper data collections, scientific assessment of information, strategic planning and coordinated action based on findings
4. Comprehensive, community spay/neuter programs
5. Permanent identification programs
6. Programs to deal with the uncontrolled reproduction of feral cats
7. Pet Retention
8. Balance of supply versus demand
9. High-volume shelter adoption programs
10. Curtail amateur and backyard breeding
11. Programs that care for sick and injured animals
12. Programs to detect uneducated owners or those experiencing problems and intervene with appropriate education
13. Full support from the veterinary community
14. Educational programs that define the problem, prioritize resources and initiate solutions that change behaviors
15. Animal legislation on which all organizations can agree
16. Increase supply of rental apartments and condominium housing where pets are allowed
17. Better program accountability
18. Shelters designed for group housing of dogs and cat colonies to decrease stress
19. Productive economics

Prevalence of upper respiratory pathogens in four management models for unowned cats in the South-East United States

The Veterinary Journal
Available online 15 May 2014
In Press, Accepted Manuscript

Prevalence of upper respiratory pathogens in four management models for unowned cats in the South-East United States
C.M. McManus a, J.K. Levy a, , , L.A. Andersen a, S.P. McGorray b, C.M. Leutenegger c, L.K. Gray a, J. Hilligas a, S.J. Tucker a
a Maddie's Shelter Medicine Program, Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32610 USA
b Department of Epidemiology and Health Policy Research, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32610 USA
c IDEXX Laboratories, Inc., West Sacramento, CA 95605 USA
Accepted 11 May 2014, Available online 15 May 2014


Upper respiratory infection (URI) is a pervasive problem in cats and impacts the capacity and cost of sheltering programs. This study determined the pattern of respiratory pathogens in cats with and without clinical signs of URI in four different models for managing unowned cats, namely, (1) short-term animal shelters (STS), (2) long-term sanctuaries (LTS), (3) home-based foster care programs (FCP), and (4) trap-neuter-return programs for community cats (TNR). Conjunctival and oropharyngeal swabs from 543 cats, approximately half of which showed clinical signs of URI, were tested for feline herpes virus-1 (FHV), feline calicivirus (FCV), Chlamydia felis, Bordetella bronchiseptica, Mycoplasma felis, and canine influenza virus by real-time PCR.

FHV (59%, 41%) and B. bronchiseptica (33%, 24%) were more prevalent in both clinically affected and nonclinical cats, respectively, in STS than other management models. FCV (67%, 51%) and M. felis (84%, 86%) were more prevalent in LTS than any other management model. Clinically affected cats in FCP were more likely to carry FHV (23%, 6%), C. felis (24%, 10%), or M. felis (58%, 38%) than were nonclinical cats. Clinically affected cats in TNR were more likely to carry FCV (55%, 36%) or C. felis (23%, 4%) than were nonclinical cats. The prevalence of individual pathogens varied between different management models, but the majority of the cats in each model carried one or more respiratory pathogens regardless of clinical signs.

Both confined and free-roaming cats are at risk of developing infectious respiratory disease and their health should be protected by strategic vaccination, appropriate antibiotic therapy, effective biosecurity, feline stress mitigation, and alternatives to high-density confinement.

Animal shelter; Foster home; Sanctuary; Trap-neuter-return; Upper respiratory infection

Reduce shelter cat intake with TNR and adoption

As always, deep appreciation to Dr. Julie Levy et al.

The Veterinary Journal
In Press, Accepted Manuscript
Effect of high-impact targeted trap-neuter-return and adoption of community cats on cat intake to a shelter
J.K. Levy a, , , N.M. Isaza b, K.C. Scott a
a Maddie's Shelter Medicine Program, Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32610 USA
b Veterinary Community Outreach Program, Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32610 USA

Accepted 1 May 2014, Available online 5 May 2014
License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.tvjl.2014.05.001 Open Access

Approximately 2-3 million cats enter animal shelters annually in the United States. A large proportion of these are unowned community cats that have no one to reclaim them and may be too unsocialized for adoption. More than half of impounded cats are euthanased due to shelter crowding, shelter-acquired disease or feral behavior. Trap-neuter-return (TNR), an alternative to shelter impoundment improves cat welfare and reduces the size of cat colonies, but has been regarded as too impractical to reduce cat populations on a larger scale or to limit shelter cat intake. The aim of this study was to assess the effect of TNR concentrated in a region of historically high cat impoundments in a Florida community. A 2 year program was implemented to capture and neuter at least 50% of the estimated community cats in a single 11.9 km2 zip code area, followed by return to the neighborhood or adoption. Trends in shelter cat intake from the target zip code were compared to the rest of the county. A total of 2,366 cats, representing ~54% of the projected community cat population in the targeted area, were captured for the TNR program over the 2 year study period. After 2 years, per capita shelter intake was 3.5-fold higher and per capita shelter euthanasia was 17.5-fold higher in the non-target area than in the target area. Shelter cat impoundment from the target area where 60 cats/1,000 residents were neutered annually decreased 66% during the 2 year study period, compared to a decrease of 12% in the non-target area, where only 12 cats/1,000 residents were neutered annually. High-impact TNR combined with the adoption of socialized cats and nuisance resolution counseling for residents is an effective tool for reducing shelter cat intake.

Feral cats; Stray cats; Animal shelters; Trap-neuter-return; Animal welfare


Feral Cat Blog! Resources:

see these resources in right sidebar since inception of the Feral Cat Blog!:
How to TNR, Cat Management in Communities, Neuter/Spay Nationwide, EVENTS & TRAINING: Cat Advocacy, Cat Management, Trap-Neuter-RETURN (TNR)
Feline shelter intake reduction-Keeping cats out of shelters
use the search box at left of top blue menu bar with many relevant keywords.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

environmental assessments for mammal damage

several 2014 Environmental Assessments for Mammal Damage from the USDA APHIS Wildlife Services:

Draft Environmental Assessment Mammal Damage Management in Alabama - March 2014
in cooperation with Tennessee Valley Authority

Final Environmental Assessment Mammal Damage Management in Ohio Final - Final EA January 2014

search through with keywords feral or cats or trap neuter return to see the oft-repeated info of many years and sometimes a few current references from the more-recently created materials of opponents to freeroam cats and TNR.

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previous related Feral Cat Blog! posts using keywords environmental assessment or mammal damage or enter USDA, wildlife services, predator management, FWS, public lands, etc.

Kauai feral cat task force final report

The final report dated March 14, 2014 with comments

Kauai FCTF Final Report

As always, thank you to those genuinely working to provide nonlethal solutions to improve and save cat lives, and deep appreciation to individuals who truly help animals.

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current related news: Reward offered in Kauai cat killings

previous related Feral Cat Blog! posts:

Kauai Feral Cat Task Force - August 2013

Kauai Feral Cat Task Force Draft - January 2014

Feral Cat Blog! posts using keyword hawaii

TWS Maine Feral Cat Colony Assessment

See March 2012 post: Feral freeroaming outdoor cats in Maine

The October 2013 report titled
Maine Feral Cat Colony Assessment Project was completed by The Wildlife Society/Maine Chapter's Feral and Outdoor Cat Committee/New Earth Ecological Associates. A $2K grant was received in May 2012 from the Maine Outdoor Heritage Fund. MOHF is under Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.


Given the number of persons contacted and the sites visited, information on feral cat colonies fell far below expectations. Granted, some of the survey methods could be improved, but if feral cat colonies were a significant issue in Maine it would seem that more colonies would have been identified, and of those surveyed more would have had evidence of cats and high numbers of them. It may be that feral cat colonies in Maine are widely dispersed and have not reached the
levels of concern reported in other areas of the United States.
Recent studies and literature seem to point toward free-roaming housecats as a more significant threat to wildlife. Future efforts in Maine may be best spent on efforts to educate the public on feral and free-ranging cats and developing incentives for cat owners to keep cats indoors.
A summary of the report was included in the spring 2014 METWS newsletter (Maine Chapter of The Wildlife Society TWS.)

GOS fund to help animal controls remove feral cats

Steve Holzman works for the USFWS Refuge I&M (Inventory and Monitoring) Southeast Region program out of Athens Georgia, is current president of Georgia Ornithological Society GOS and a longtime online commenter in opposition to freeroam cats and Trap Neuter Return. Very unfortunate and no surprise to read the announcement below. Instead, all stakeholders can work together on the multiple nonlethal solutions outlined over a decade ago to address concurrently both owned and unowned cat issues. Such projects as below would have been welcome starting years ago if the true goal was nonlethal removal, planned and done by those who genuinely want to save cats and wildlife.

Vol. 41, No. 1
GOShawk—5 March 2014


GOS Funding for T.R.A.P.
By Steve Holzman

The Georgia Ornithological Society announces a new fund to assist local animal control agencies in the removal of feral cats from the environment. Feral and free-roaming cats represent one of the largest sources of anthropogenic mortality on native birds and other wildlife. This fund will be known as T.R.A.P. (Targeted Removal of non-native Avian Predators), and donations submitted to GOS for this fund will be used to purchase humane live traps. Only those institutions which recognize trap and remove as the only population reduction method that reduces predation and risk of disease will be eligible. Many animal control agencies have limited budgets and feral cat removal is limited by available resources. GOS will match the first $500 donated for this fund.
If you know of a nature center, local park, or animal control agency willing to trap and remove feral cats, send the information to Steve Holzman via email to ... .

... Since feral cat removal can be controversial, I’ve set up an online discussion space to discuss this issue if you have any questions http://www.quicktopic.com/41/H/6Li4Qf6khAmCn

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for previous related information, simply enter relevant keywords into the search box at left of top blue menu bar such as ornithological, conservation, The Wildlife Society or TWS, American Bird Conservancy ABC, Audubon, USFWS, USDOI, USDA Wildlife Services, Partners in Flight or PIF, removal, eradication, cat control, stakeholders, feral cat management, community cat management, and so on.