Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Don't Just Blame Cats: Dogs Disrupt Wildlife, Too

Megan Gannon, News Editor
Date: 21 February 2013 Time: 03:58 PM ET

Though they seem so natural in our homes, cats and dogs are natural predators, too. Most will attack birds, lizards and smaller mammals when given the chance, and scientists have demonstrated how their explosive populations can upset ecosystems.

The scourge of domestic cats has been thrown into the spotlight recently. A campaign in New Zealand is pushing to get rid of cats, or at least keep them confined indoors, where they can't prey on kiwis and other native birds. And a study out last month attached some staggering figures to cats' carnage in the United States: it found that the felines kill between 1.4 billion and 3.7 billion birds and between 6.9 billion and 20.7 billion small mammals, such as meadow voles and chipmunks, each year.

But defensive cat lovers should rest assured — a new study from researchers at the University of Oxford reminds us that domestic dogs are also killers and disease-spreaders that can pose conservation problems when they're allowed to roam free outdoors.

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