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Cat-killed Birds UPSC NOTE

 

Cat-killed Birds

  • The ‘State of Indian Birds 2023’ exercise recently concluded that birds in India are faring poorly.

  • Among many factors, the report acknowledged a silent bird-killer lurking in India’s urban areas: cats.

  • In the U.S. alone, free-ranging domestic cats have been estimated to kill billions of birds every year.

  • One study found that cats may be the “single greatest source of anthropogenic mortality” for birds and mammals in the U.S. 

  • The study also found that Worldwide, free-ranging domestic cats have caused or contributed to dozens of extinctions of bird species recorded in the IUCN Red List.

Study conducted in India:

  • A study on the hunting habits of free-ranging domestic cats on urban birds in Dehradun, a city that has 590 of the 1,359 species of birds recorded in the country. 

  • The study found in a survey that pet cats hunted birds the most, followed by reptiles, insects, rodents, and amphibians.

  • Cats can climb, so they can reach habitats such as the nests of canopy-dwellers.

  • Cat saliva is also more likely to contain bacteria (Pasteurella multocida) that are lethal to birds.

  • So if the direct impact of an attack doesn’t kill them, the bacteria will. 

  • Cats also maintain a ‘landscape of fear’. 

    • This means that when cats are known to be in a particular area, the bird would avoid foraging or nesting there. 

    • They end up investing time and energy to be extra vigilant and to find alternative areas. 

    • This affects them individually and on a population level.

Trap-Neuter-Return Policy

  • Domestic cats (Felis catus) weren’t always this widespread. 

  • Palaeogenetic studies have found that wildcats (Felis sylvestris) were probably first domesticated in West Asia some 10,000 years ago. 

    • They spread via sailing ships much later. 

    • Today, they are one of the world’s 100 worst invasive alien species.

  • The proper way to deal with the cat problem has spiralled into a vicious debate in the west.

  • Animal welfare groups usually advocate the ‘trap-neuter-return’ (TNR) policy, whereby stray cats or dogs are trapped, sterilised, and returned in the hope that this will reduce their populations. 

  • This is considered a humane approach because it could improve the quality of a cat’s life as well.

  • The trouble is that cats are not easy to trap. And unless most of them are sterilised at once, the population will not decrease in a sustained way. 

  • This is why TNR programmes around the world have had limited success. 


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Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam: Cat-killed Birds UPSC NOTE
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