Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Cat Wars

Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Cat Wars

Article excerpt

Cat Wars

By Peter P. Marra and Chris Santella. $24.95. I 212 pp. Princeton University Press. Princeton, NJ. 2016. ISBN: 9780691167411.

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Cat Wars describes scientific studies that link disappearing bird species to free-ranging feral domestic cats.

Cats are believed to have driven 33 bird species to extinction. Wisconsin researcher Stanley Temple and his associates produced evidence that cats in that state kill 7.8 million birds annually. Some people reacted to the research with nasty calls, hate mail, and death threats.

That domestic cats threaten bird populations is not a new idea. In 1894, lighthouse keeper David Lyall brought a pregnant female cat, Tibbles, to Stephens Island off New Zealand. The cat--the island's only mammalian predator--had kittens, and within a year a large feral cat population overran the island. The cats hunted the native Stephens Island wren, one of only three species of flightless songbirds in the world, to extinction. …

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