University of Nebraska study on feral cats stirs controversy


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LINCOLN, Neb. — A report that recommends killing feral cats as a way to control the animals, including a primer on how to shoot a cat, is stirring emotions among bird and cat lovers.

The University of Nebraska at Lincoln’s study (PDF) found that neutering or spaying is ineffective at eliminating feral-cat colonies, though useful in reducing colonies’ expansion.


One official from the American Bird Conservancy calls the report ‘a must read’ for communities with a feral-cat problem.

But critics note that the wild cats help control rodent populations, and say habitat destruction, herbicides and other issues are a bigger threat to birds.

They also question the report’s finding that feral cats’ killing of birds costs the U.S. $17 billion, when accounting for how much bird watchers, hunters and others spend on the hobbies.

Pennsylvania airport with feral-cat problem announces plans to trap, neuter and release cats
A catfight over neutering program (January story by Times reporter Kimi Yoshino)

-- Margery A. Beck, Associated Press