Cats Responsible For Driving Many Species To Extinction

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Josh Davis 20 Sep 2016, 20:44

By looking at huge database of references and trawling the IUCN’s Red List of Threatened Species, Doherty found that invasive mammals contributed to an “astonishing” 58 percent of all bird, mammal, and reptile species extinctions known to have occurred in the last 500 years.

“We also found that a further 596 threatened vertebrate species have suffered negative impacts from a total of 30 invasive predator species,” Doherty added.

Those creatures most at risk tend to be endemic island animals, as documented by the widespread extinctions experienced in Madagascar and New Zealand. Stephens Island wren is a perfect example, as the entire species of bird is thought to have been wiped out within a matter of years of people – and their cats – arriving on the remote island off the coast of New Zealand. Only ever identified by the carcasses carried back by many a cat, and not as is widely reported by a single feline named Tibbles, by the time the wren was recognized as a new species, it was already gone.

Nowadays, conservationists are a little more switched on when it comes to protecting native habitats against invasive mammals. The New Zealand government, for example, has announced ambitious plans to eradicate all invasive mammalian predators, including feral cats, by 2050, and the researchers of this latest study hope that their work might inspire more nations to follow suit.

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