Les hommes ont oublié cette vérité. Mais tu ne dois pas l'oublier, dit le renard. Tu deviens responsable pour toujours de ce que tu as apprivoisé.
Le Petit Prince, chap. 21

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Movements and predation activity of feral and domestic cats on Banks Peninsula.

Hansen, C. M. (2010). Movements and predation activity of feral and domestic cats (Felis catus) on Banks Peninsula. MSc Thesis, Lincoln University.

Domestic house cats (Felis catus) are seen as a potentially damaging predator to numerous threatened prey species, especially those with access to natural environments that contain abundant native species. However, the role of domestic cats as major predators is controversial and the degree to which they negatively impact bird populations is debated. Natural areas, such as Orton Bradley Park in Charteris Bay on Banks Peninsula, are home to many native and endemic bird species, including the threatened kereru (Hemiphaga novaeseelandiae). Charteris Bay is an urban to rural (including natural areas) gradient, and provides an ideal study site characteristic of much of New Zealand. Charteris Bay cat owners were enlisted to obtain data on their cats’ physical characteristics, management and lifestyle and how this may be influencing hunting activity. Age was the only significant influencing factor on how often a cat was reported to hunt, younger cats hunted more often than their older counterparts. Sex, size, breed, type of food fed, frequency of feeding, restricting cat indoors, use of collars and bells, distance seen from the home-site had no significant impact on hunting activity. Cat owners were then enlisted to participate in a prey recording survey of the prey that their cats brought home. Mean prey items per cat was 15.6 (± 4.5 S.E.). The number of prey caught by each cat ranged from 0 to 79 items over six months. Rodents were the prey item retrieved most often (48% of the total prey take) and Lagomorphs were the next most commonly retrieved prey item (38%). Birds, lizards and invertebrates made up the remaining 14% of prey items retrieved. Of the total prey retrieved 2.4% were native species. A sample of eight domestic cats participated in satellite tracking using GPS technology to investigate home ranges and movements. Home range sizes ranged from 0.7 to 13.4 ha (100% MCP). Maximum straight line distances travelled from the home site ranged from 80 to 301m. Nocturnal home range sizes were significantly larger than diurnal ranges. One feral cat trapped and tracked at Orton Bradley Park had a home range size of 415 ha (100% MCP). Digital camera traps were set up at 31 sites around the park, density estimates of 1.2 - 1.6 cats/ km² for feral cats were calculated using photographic recapture data from the camera traps. Domestic house cats in this study appeared to have little impact on native species populations of birds, lizards or invertebrate populations. These cats may provide a net benefit to these populations through removal and suppression of other pests and predators. Proximity to Orton Bradley Park was not a significant influencing factor for the movement or hunting behaviour for the cats in this study. Feral cats at Orton Bradley Park exist at low densities and, like their domestic counterparts, probably suppress pests and predators. A successful pest management plan at Orton Bradley Park would require removal of all levels of pests (i.e. cats, possums and rodents) and the prevention of immigration back into the site.

Read a short review about belling effectiveness

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