What is it about?

The objectives of this case study were two-fold. Firstly, to investigate activity patterns of domestic cats inside a 75 ha urban reserve; and secondly, to survey the human community neighbouring the reserve about their attitudes and beliefs related to pet ownership and the threat that domestic cats and dogs may pose to native wildlife. RESULTS: Twelve motion-activated camera traps were triggered by cats 83 times during the 32-day study period. Almost six times as many cat-related triggers occurred close to the reserve edge (25m in) compared to 100 m into the reserve. Distance from the nearest walking track within the reserve had no significant effect on detection rate. The online survey found that the urban reserve is highly valued by the local community for its provision of habitat for native wildlife and, in general, there is strong agreement that the threat cats pose to native wildlife is a problem. Attitudes of cat owners, however, did differ from those of non-owners, especially in their degree of support for suggested solutions. Advocacy and education about the effects of cats on native wildlife may alter the behaviour of cat owners who value native biodiversity, however, these strategies alone are unlikely to persuade pet owners who are not motivated by conservation goals.

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Why is it important?

Regular contact with nature and animals is increasingly recognised for the well-being benefits it brings people. Across the globe there are now many initiatives promoting biodiversity in urban areas – both for the benefit of native wildlife and the people who live in cities. In these situations, the dual role that animals such as cats and dogs play as companions to humans, but also as potential predators of wildlife, becomes increasingly important.

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This page is a summary of: Activity of free-roaming domestic cats in an urban reserve and public perception of pet-related threats to wildlife in New Zealand, Urban Ecosystems, August 2019, Springer Science + Business Media, DOI: 10.1007/s11252-019-00886-2.
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