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

Friday 30 September 2016

Feral cats: Genetic and sanitary risk for wild felids in Iberian Peninsula (in Spanish)

Tobajas, J. (2016). Riesgos genéticos y sanitarios asociados al gato asilvestrado (Felis silvestris catus): el caso de los felinos salvajes de la península ibérica. Chronica naturae, (6), 63-82.

El gato cimarrón o asilvestrado (Felis silvestris catus) se ha distribuido ampliamente
por todo el mundo, colonizando nuevos territorios e interactuando en muchas ocasiones
con las especies domésticas y silvestres. Sanitariamente, la presencia de gatos asilvestrados
trae consigo una serie de inconvenientes para las especies de felinos salvajes, actuando
como reservorios y dispersores de enfermedades. Por ello es de vital importancia conocer
la situación actual de la presencia de estas enfermedades, y conocer bien la epidemiología
asociada a la presencia del gato asilvestrado. Esta revisión recoge los estudios sanitarios
sobre el gato asilvestrado, el gato montés (Felis silvestris) y el lince ibérico (Lynx
pardinus). Estas dos últimas, son las especies silvestres que pueden sufrir las consecuencias
del aumento de la presencia de gatos asilvestrados en la naturaleza de la Península Ibérica.
Los resultados de los estudios sanitarios sobre gatos asilvestrados, muestran una prevalencia
alta de parásitos helmintos (especialmente de nematodos como Toxocara cati) y protozoos
como Toxoplasma gondii. Del mismo modo, se han encontrado altas prevalencias de virus
compartidos entre los felinos salvajes y los gatos asilvestrados, como el virus de la leucemia
felina, coronavirus y el moquillo, convirtiéndose en una amenaza para la conservación del
lince ibérico. También cabe destacar la presencia de bacterias transmitidas por vectores,
como el género Rickettsia y Bartonella. Aparte de las amenazas sanitarias, el aumento
detectado en la presencia de híbridos de gato doméstico y gato montés a lo largo de toda
Europa también es remarcable. Por estas razones, se puede considerar el gato cimarrón
como una de las mayores amenazas para el gato montés y el lince ibérico dentro de su área
de distribución.

Monday 26 September 2016

Continental‐scale analysis of feral cat diet in Australia, prey‐switching and the risk: benefit of rabbit control

Mutze, G. (2016). Continental‐scale analysis of feral cat diet in Australia, prey‐switching and the risk: benefit of rabbit control. Journal of Biogeography.

Recent analyses of geographical variation in cats’ diet across Australia have been used to highlight rabbit control as a conservation risk, on the basis that prey-switching by cats following rabbit control is likely to threaten Australian fauna. There is no direct evidence to support that proposition. However, there is direct evidence of repeated prey-switching due to seasonal fluctuations in uncontrolled rabbit populations, of long-term suppression of rabbit numbers by effective rabbit control, and that reduced rabbit abundance leads to reduced cat abundance, reduced predation of native fauna and recovery of threatened prey populations. Furthermore, rabbits are a known threat to many Australian native plants and rabbit control has proven benefits for their recovery, thereby offering long-term benefits for dependent fauna and broader ecosystem function. On the balance of evidence, rabbit control should be encouraged in Australia wherever possible, as a national conservation priority.

Sunday 25 September 2016

Involvement in a Northern California community on the feral cat problem

Lando, C. A. (2016). Building involvement in a Northern California community on a targeted public health issue: a service announcement on the feral cat problem in Chico.  Faculty of California State University, Chico

The primary purpose of this study is to examine the health and environmental issues caused by feral cats and to offer solutions to control the growth of feral cat colonies in a Northern California community. Research supports the claim that feral cats, or community cats are a community problem and a community’s responsibility. Therefore, the local government, local animal welfare groups, and concerned citizens need to work together to find viable solutions.
Furthermore, the City of Chico’s Animal Control Officer estimates there are approximately 14,000 feral cats living on the streets and in the parks of the city of Chico. Several animal welfare organizations have worked to reduce this number through adoption, offering permanent housing, or trapping, vaccinating, neutering and returning cats to their colonies. The city’s euthanasia policy is only in effect for sick animals brought into the shelter by citizens. Due to budget cuts and lack of space, the city cannot house abandoned or surrendered animals. Therefore, the city refers calls about feral cats to one of the other animal welfare agencies.
The results of this project have shown that a collaborative organization consisting of members of concerned citizens and animal welfare groups can offer the best solutions to the feral cat dilemma. Accessing information about the ways other communities have addressed the feral cat problem is helpful. Working together individual organizations can share strategies for implementing fundraising activities, publicity, grant writing, and other issues such as purchasing pet supplies and food.
In addition, California State University, Chico, needs to take a more active role in disseminating information to its students about not releasing cats at the end of the school year. This information should be provided during orientation and through the university’s newspaper. Research has shown that an ongoing public service announcement through television and radio is one of the best ways to reach the most people. Public service announcements offer information and resources available to
citizens for assistance with a feral cat problem. 

Saturday 24 September 2016

Cats are a factor contributing to the collapse of mammal communities in N Australia

Hohnen R, Tuft K, McGregor HW, Legge S, Radford IJ, Johnson CN (2016) Occupancy of the Invasive Feral Cat Varies with Habitat Complexity. PLoS ONE 11(9): e0152520. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0152520

The domestic cat (Felis catus) is an invasive exotic in many locations around the world and is thought to be a key factor driving recent mammal declines across northern Australia. Many mammal species native to this region now persist only in areas with high topographic complexity, provided by features such as gorges or escarpments. Do mammals persist in these habitats because cats occupy them less, or despite high cat occupancy? We show that occupancy of feral cats was lower in mammal-rich habitats of high topographic complexity. These results support the idea that predation pressure by feral cats is a factor contributing to the collapse of mammal communities across northern Australia. Managing impacts of feral cats is a global conservation challenge. Conservation actions such as choosing sites for small mammal reintroductions may be more successful if variation in cat occupancy with landscape features is taken into account.

Saturday 17 September 2016

Semi-Stray Dogs and Graduated Humanness

Sandoval-Cervantes, I. (2016). Semi-Stray Dogs and Graduated Humanness: The Political Encounters of Dogs and Humans in Mexico. In Companion Animals in Everyday Life (pp. 169-181). Palgrave Macmillan US.

In January 2013, a pack of stray dogs was accused with murder in one of Mexico City’s poorest and most populated boroughs. Images of the dogs, expert testimonies, and protests saturated the media. Eventually, the dogs were ambiguously exonerated. This event raises important questions that show the intricate ways in which human–dog relationships in Mexico have been historically constructed around notions of humanness, and informed by notions of class, race, and citizenship. I rely on the concept of “graduated humanness” to analyze the case of the “doglinquents” of Mexico City. I conclude that the concept of “graduated humanness” can illuminate how humans and animal rights are used contextually to “save” specific nonhuman beings while not addressing the larger structural conditions that frame the lives of humans and nonhumans.

Attitudes to dogs in Taiwan

Serpell, J. A., & Hsu, Y. (2016). Attitudes to Dogs in Taiwan: A Case Study. In Companion Animals in Everyday Life (pp. 145-165). Palgrave Macmillan US.

Despite the dog’s long mutualistic association with humans, global attitudes toward the species, Canis familiaris, are exceedingly diverse, ranging from overwhelmingly positive in most Western countries to predominantly negative in many developing nations. Since attitudes are important predictors of dog-related behavior, knowledge of the forces and factors that affect people’s attitudes to dogs can make an important contribution to improving dog-human relations, global public health, and canine welfare. This chapter explores some of the key factors influencing dog-related attitudes and behavior, with particular reference to the results of a case study of attitudes to dogs in Taiwan. The findings suggest that people’s attitudes to dogs involve both affective/emotional and instrumental/practical components, and that a significant minority of people in Taiwan are opposed to the killing/euthanasia of unwanted dogs. The most important determinant of both positive affective attitudes to dogs and opposition to killing/euthanasia was the experience of growing up with household dogs. The significance of these and other findings are discussed from the perspective of animal attitude development, and dog welfare and population management

Polarized opinions approach on Feral Cat Management

Lorden, R. (2016). Polarized Opinions and Shared Goals: Feral Cat Management in an Academic Community in Kentucky. In Companion Animals in Everyday Life (pp. 183-200). Palgrave Macmillan US.

Although there is general agreement among government agencies, conservation groups and animal welfare organizations that cat populations need to be managed, the management of cats is frequently a topic of debate between biologists/environmental groups and animal welfare/animal rights advocacy groups. The two groups’ beliefs are polarized in regard to impacts on wildlife, management strategies and efficacy of trap-and-neuter (TNR) programs. Concerns of conservation biologists relate to cats as predators, but welfare proponents feel that humans must take responsibility for free-ranging house pets and their feral offspring. It is not surprising that discussions of feral cat management become volatile. Much of the debate hinges upon whether management solutions should use lethal or non-lethal control strategies. Conservation biologists largely support cat euthanasia, while animal welfare activists support non-lethal treatments such as TNR for free-ranging cats. The issues of this larger conservancy/welfare debate framed the discourse of the cat problem and guided solution strategies at Eastern Kentucky University, where a population of cats has existed on the campus for many years. A tentative agreement has been forged between an administration that subscribed to a trap and remove policy, and a network of TNR volunteers. Both sides have focused on the common goal of a reduction in the number of campus cats. In addition, both sides have realized that each setting has its own particular constraints and that solutions must be tailored to those situations. Instead of resorting to invective, data are being collected. When well-meaning people meet and focus on solutions to a shared goal, positive outcomes become possible.

Wednesday 7 September 2016

Electronic boundary fence dont impair quality of life of cats

Kasbaoui, N., Cooper, J., Mills, D. S., & Burman, O. (2016). Effects of long-term exposure to an electronic containment system on the behaviour and welfare of domestic cats. PloS one, 11(9), e0162073.
Free-roaming cats are exposed to a variety of risks, including involvement in road traffic accidents. One way of mitigating these risks is to contain cats, for example using an electronic boundary fence system that delivers an electric ‘correction’ via a collar if a cat ignores a warning cue and attempts to cross the boundary. However, concerns have been expressed over the welfare impact of such systems. Our aim was to determine if long-term exposure to an electronic containment system was associated with reduced cat welfare. We compared 46 owned domestic cats: 23 cats that had been contained by an electronic containment system for more than 12 months (AF group); and 23 cats with no containment system that were able to roam more widely (C group). We assessed the cats’ behavioural responses and welfare via four behavioural tests (unfamiliar person test; novel object test; sudden noise test; cognitive bias test) and an owner questionnaire. In the unfamiliar person test, C group lip-licked more than the AF group, whilst the AF group looked at, explored and interacted more with the unfamiliar person than C group. In the novel object test, the AF group looked at and explored the object more than C group. No significant differences were found between AF and C groups for the sudden noise or cognitive bias tests. Regarding the questionnaire, C group owners thought their cats showed more irritable behaviour and AF owners thought that their cats toileted inappropriately more often than C owners. Overall, AF cats were less neophobic than C cats and there was no evidence of significant differences between the populations in general affective state. These findings indicate that an electronic boundary fence with clear pre-warning cues does not impair the long term quality of life of cats.

Sunday 4 September 2016

Proposed management plan for cats and black rats on Christmas Island.

Algar, D., & Johnston, M. (2010). Proposed management plan for cats and black rats on Christmas Island. Government of Western Australia Department of Environment and Conservation.

Proposed management plan for cats and black rats on Christmas Island 1Report outline The impact of cats on the biodiversity of Christmas Island is of concern to land management agencies and the broader  community.  Domestic  and  stray  cats  reside  in  the  residential,  commercial  and  light industrial  area while a population of feral cats exists across the rest of the island (i.e. mining lease, national park and other  Crown  land).  Concern  has  been  raised  regarding  the  threat  that  all ‘classes’  of  cats  present  to  the  viability  of  a  number  of  endangered  fauna  populations. Additionally,  previous  research  has  demonstrated  that  the  cats  on  the  island  also  have  a  very high  prevalence  of  Toxoplasmosis, a  parasite  that  can  lead  to  serious  human  health complications.The  management  of  cats  on  the  island  is  a  complex  task  as reduction/eradication in cat numbers alone could lead to changes in the abundance of other exotic species populations, especially  the  introduced  black  rat  which  then  may  threaten  wildlife  species  and  also  have disease implications.  
Land  management  agencies  on  Christmas  Island  have  commissioned  this report  which  describes  the  rationale and development of a long-term cat and black rat management and eradication plan to mitigate the environmental  and  social  impacts  of  cats  and  black  rats across  all  land  tenures  (shire-managed  lands,  Crown land including mine leases and Christmas Island National Park).   
The  report  provides  a  background  to  the  threats  and  impacts  of  cats and  black  rats  on  the  island’s  natural  and  social  environment,  including  wildlife  predation  and disease  threats  to  wildlife  and  human  health.  It  documents  previous  reports  in  relation  to impact  and  management  of  cats  and  black  rats  on  Christmas  Island.  The  current  local  cat management  laws  (Shire  of  Christmas  Island  Local  Law  for  the  Keeping  and  Control of Cats 2004) under the Local Government Act 1995 (WA) (CI) are evaluated (see Appendix 1) with the aim of limiting domestic and stray cat impact on the iconic native fauna of Christmas Island, promoting responsible cat ownership, compliance and enforcement of cat management laws and measures required to implement a ‘last cat policy’ for the Island.  
Cat  and  rodent  eradication  programs  and strategies  developed  and/or  implemented  by other conservation  agencies and local governments, particularly for islands are evaluated for their utility on Christmas Island. A strategy  is recommended that  provides  a staged approach  to  cat  and black  rat  management and  control  leading to eradication of one or both target species. Techniques, actions and priorities are described as are recommendations   of   where   additional   research   is   required.   A   monitoring   program   to   measure   the   effectiveness  of  the  strategy  is  reported which  enables  investigation  of  the potential  relationships  between  cats  and  their  invasive species  prey,  including  rodents  and centipedes,  and  strategies  to  address  any  negative environmental or social impacts of cat control. Monitoring requirements to maintain a cat and black rat free status including quarantine requirements to prevent, detect and quickly manage, new incursions are also discussed. 
Timelines and resource requirements to undertake this program are provided in Appendix 2. 

Saturday 3 September 2016

Guard dogs as top predators in altered communities

Bommel, L., & Johnson, C. N. (2016). Livestock guardian dogs as surrogate top predators? How Maremma sheepdogs affect a wildlife community. Ecology and evolution, 6(18), 6702-6711.

Use of livestock guardian dogs (LGDs) to reduce predation on livestock is increasing. However, how these dogs influence the activity of wildlife, including predators, is not well understood. We used pellet counts and remote cameras to investigate the effects of free ranging LGDs on four large herbivores (eastern gray kangaroo, common wombat, swamp wallaby, and sambar deer) and one mesopredator (red fox) in Victoria, Australia. Generalized mixed models and one- and two-species detection models were used to assess the influence of the presence of LGDs on detection of the other species. We found avoidance of LGDs in four species. Swamp wallabies and sambar deer were excluded from areas occupied by LGDs; gray kangaroos showed strong spatial and temporal avoidance of LGD areas; foxes showed moderately strong spatial and temporal avoidance of LGD areas. The effect of LGDs on wombats was unclear. Avoidance of areas with LGDs by large herbivores can benefit livestock production by reducing competition for pasture and disease transmission from wildlife to livestock, and providing managers with better control over grazing pressure. Suppression of mesopredators could benefit the small prey of those species. Synthesis and applications: In pastoral areas, LGDs can function as a surrogate top-order predator, controlling the local distribution and affecting behavior of large herbivores and mesopredators. LGDs may provide similar ecological functions to those that in many areas have been lost with the extirpation of native large carnivores.

Friday 2 September 2016

Camera trapping to estimate free-ranging cats in towns

Elizondo, E. C., & Loss, S. R. (2016). Using trail cameras to estimate free-ranging domestic cat abundance in urban areas. Wildlife Biology, 22(5), 246-252.

The domestic cat Felis catus is one of the most ecologically harmful invasive species on earth. Predation by free-ranging cats poses a serious global threat to small vertebrates and is a leading source of anthropogenic mortality for birds and small mammals in North America. However, little is known about the size of cat populations, especially in urban areas where both cats and wildlife are abundant. Methods to quantify free-ranging cat populations are needed to understand the magnitude of threats facing wildlife populations and to inform decisions about prioritizing conservation and cat population management. We assessed the utility of trail cameras and sight—resight analysis for estimating free-ranging cat abundance in a small urban area (Stillwater, OK, USA). We also evaluated whether relationships exist between cat abundance and both urban development intensity and human population density. Even with relatively large cat populations, we identified the vast majority (∼96.5%) of individual cats in both day-time and night-time photos. We found no relationship between cat abundance and either urban development intensity or human population density. This finding combined with the large numbers of cats observed suggests that cats may be abundant in our study area regardless of urban context. Sampling freeranging cat populations across a broad range of urbanization intensities that capture a variety of human behaviors and/or cat management policies is needed to shed light on the drivers of cat population abundance. Trail cameras show promise as a highly useful tool for achieving this objective in the context of wildlife conservation management.
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