Australian cats kill millions of birds each year, study reports

A new study shows the negative impact cats have on Australia's wildlife.

Ed Mason | Oct 31, 2019

Cats in Australia kill almost one million birds a day, according to new research published in the journal Biological Conservation.

A team of scientists from Charles Darwin University made this discovery by surveying 100 studies conducted across the continent. The data showed that roughly 316 million birds are killed by feral cats in Australia each year, and pet cats kill roughly 61 million.

While past studies have focused on the impact of Australia's cats on its mammal population, this is the first time researchers have looked at how they impact birds.

"Everyone knows that cats kill birds, but this study shows that, at a national level, the amount of predation is staggering, and is likely to be driving the ongoing decline of many species," said lead author John Woinarski, professor and researcher at Charles Darwin University, in a statement.

This new research is concerning because it shows cats have the potential to decimate many different populations. Not only have they affected birds on the continent's coastal islands, but they have also hurt 71 already threatened species.

Most of the birds killed by cats are medium sized ones that both nest and feed on the ground. Species that live on islands, woodlands, or grasslands are at high risk as well.

The new findings show the negative impact of cats on Australian wildlife. The team believes this is an issue that needs to be dealt with before it grows out of control. They hope their findings will help officials find effective ways to both deal with and stop the felines before it is too late.

"This new research emphasizes the need to continue working to reduce the impact of cats on our native biodiversity," said Sebastian Lang, Australia's threatened species commissioner who was not involved in the research, according to UPI. "The number of birds killed by pet cats is also high, but I would like to commend pet owners who are containing their cats instead of letting them roam freely."

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