July 2, 2009

Study: Outdoor cats easy prey for coyotes

A U.S. study has determined some wild coyotes regularly feed on outdoor domestic and feral cats.

Shannon Grubbs of the University of Arizona and Paul Krausman of the University of Montana said they tracked coyotes in the Tucson area and observed 36 coyote-cat encounters, of which 19 ended with the coyotes killing the cats.

The researchers said while other studies have found approximately 13 percent of a coyote's diet consists of cats, the new study found of the 45 instances during which coyotes were observed feeding, 42 percent of the meals were cats.

The researchers said their findings raise questions about Trap, Neuter, and Release programs that involve catching feral cats, neutering them and then releasing them back into the wild.

The American Bird Conservancy said it's consistently raised concerns about TNR programs because cats kill hundreds of millions of birds each year and also because TNR programs do not provide a humane solution for the cats themselves.

The study appears in the Journal of Wildlife Management.