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

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Ecology of a feral cat population in rural Northern Italy

Genovesi, P., Besa, M., & Toso, S. (1995). Ecology of a feral cat Felis catus population in an agricultural area of northern Italy. Wildlife Biology, 1: 233-237.

The ecology of a feral cat population in an intensively cultivated region of northern Italy was studied. The study area is a land accretion territory, reclaimed in the early 1970s, characterised by the absence of any food source of human origin (e.g. garbage dumps, farms, houses) and surrounded by a continuous irrigation channel that is likely to limit immigration/emigration of cats. The cat population was censused for two successive years using the sighting-resighting method; spacing patterns were studied by means of radio-telemetry; hunting behaviour was assessed by observation. Feral cats avoided any direct contact with humans, and reproduced in the wild. The density of the population remained stable throughout the study period. Turnover appeared very high, and was remarkably higher than that of cats regularly fed by humans. Very low densities, large home range sizes, solitary habits, territorial patterns similar to those of the wildcat, seasonal parturition, and prevalence of hunting activity were found. We speculate that these patterns are related to the peculiar conditions of resource availability and dispersion in the study area. Our results indicate that feral cats, even in agricultural areas and in the absence of any food provided by humans, have solitary habits and low densities, thus confirming a key role of resource availability and dispersion on the ecology of carnivores.

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