NORMAN — By Heath Herje
I frequently get calls about nuisance animals, either wild or domestic, roaming people’s property in Cleveland County. Most times it’s the usual deer, raccoon or gopher, but sometimes about a neighbor’s pet. Dog or cat, they both seem to be causing problems where they are allowed to roam free.
It seems everyone in America owns a cat or knows someone who does. Cats can make great pets and are hugely popular across the globe. While cats have many good qualities, they also have a few that can be very bad when it comes to small wildlife.
While many farmers, ranchers and homeowners enjoy seeing their cat catch “varmints” and parade them around the front porch to show off, others are concerned little fluffy is catching wildlife species they may not approve of like Bluebirds and baby rabbits.
Cats are predators with evolved hunting skills capable of killing just about anything smaller than them. They have highly-tuned senses capable of detecting the slightest movement, smell or sound. Cats have long been praised for being excellent mousers and can sometimes keep rodent populations in check around the farm and home.
While these skills and adaptations are great for catching unwanted critters like rats, they are also very good at catching wildlife we may enjoy such as birds, reptiles and amphibians. In fact, studies have shown that if left to roam, cats may kill twice weekly on average.
A recent study by The Wildlife Society and the American Bird Conservancy found that a third of free-roaming housecats are capturing and killing wildlife. Conducted by the University of Georgia, in partnership with the National Geographic Society’s Crittercam program, the study attached “Kittycams” to the collars of 60 cats near Athens, Georgia. The cameras then recorded all outdoor activities as cats spent an average of six hours outside every day.