Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Free-ranging domestic cats reduce the effective protected area of a Polish national park

Mammalian Biology - Zeitschrift für Säugetierkunde
Volume 77, Issue 3, May 2012, Pages 204–210

Free-ranging domestic cats reduce the effective protected area of a Polish national park
Izabela A. Wierzbowska a, Joanna Olko a, Magdalena Hędrzak b, Kevin R. Crooks c
a Institute of Environmental Sciences, Jagiellonian University, 7 Gronostajowa Str., 30-387 Krakow, Poland
b Department of Breeding Methods and Management of Farm and Wild Animals, University of Agriculture, 21 Mickiewicza Ave., 31-120 Krakow, Poland
c Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology, Colorado State University, 115 Wagar, Fort Collins, CO 80523-1474, USA
Received 14 July 2011. Accepted 23 January 2012. Available online 20 February 2012.

Poland's Animal Protection Act, as of 2002, made it legal to shoot free-ranging cats and dogs. The act triggered substantial social debate with opponents arguing that this legislation was weakly supported by scientific evidence of the ecological impacts of free-ranging pets. Our main research goal was to examine the activity of free-ranging domestic cats within a Polish protected area by applying radio-telemetry methods to determine space use and degree of encroachment into the national park. We trapped and radio-tracked 19 animals from three sites (focal households) located in Ojcow National Park (ONP) in southern Poland from June 2003 to March 2006. Annual 100% MCP home range size varied from 0.02 km2 to 1.46 km2, and was significantly larger for males (mean ± SE = 0.79 ± 0.34 km2; median = 0.53 km2) than for females (mean ± SE = 0.13 ± 0.05 km2; median = 0.13 km2). The distance travelled by individual cats from focal sites did not significantly differ between males (mean ± SE = 232.00 ± 21.05 m; median = 191 m) and females (mean ± SE = 232.50 ± 12.47 m; median = 228 m), with maximum distances of 1.5 km for males and 1.1 km for females. All monitored cats were in close proximity to nature reserves and ranged into protected areas without any human control. Cats living in the households in the park and its surrounding buffer zone, roaming at 200 m and 1000 m radius distances from their households, occupied from 6% to 100% of the park area, respectively. Our results reveal that free-ranging domestic cats roam through and potentially impact the entire national park, thus reducing its effective protected area.

Keywords: Felis silvestris catus; Home range; Movement; Poland; Radio-telemetry

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Feral Cat Blog! Note:

~Barb, AnimalResources has previously shared with leading cat advocates nationwide various journal articles relevant to feral or freeroaming cats by Kevin Crooks including the recent Domestic cats, bobcats and pumas may bridge infection gap between people and wildlife titled "Three pathogens in sympatric populations of pumas, bobcats, and domestic cats: Implications for infectious disease transmission" or papers by students of Crooks such as Ashley Gramza and Jesse Lewis. I first became aware of Crooks early in my animal volunteer work from the Crooks and Soule paper on Mesopredator Release, 1999.