Posts Tagged: Niamh Quinn
Feral cats are thought to be responsible for the extinction of no less than 20 native Australian mammal species, reported Weston Williams in the Australia edition of the Christian Science Monitor. The population density is smaller than the density in North America and Europe, but their impact on the wildlife Down Under is of grave concern.
Australia is not alone. A 2013 study found that cats kill as many as 3.7 billion birds and 20.7 billion small mammals in the U.S. every year.
"All outdoor cats can pose risks to wildlife," said Niamh Quinn, UC Cooperative Extension human-wildlife interactions advisor based at the UC South Coast Research and Extension Center in Irvine. "Keeping cats indoors limits their risk to native species."
According to the story, many conservationists consider cats to be an invasive species and "tough measures" are required protect native animals from their carnivorous habits.
"Currently, trap-neuter-return (TNR) programs are not effective at curbing the population," Quinn said. "Mathematical models of feral cat populations indicate that 71 to 94 percent of a population must be neutered for the populations to decline, assuming there is no immigration . . . Current TNR programs are not operating at this rate."
In Australia, the federal government plans to cull 2 million cats over five years.
"It's very disconcerting. Are they coyote vigilantes or something?” the Times quoted one resident.
In a report presented to the L.A. City Council, the Department of Animal Services said its agency, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and National Park Service had reached a consensus that the coyote population has not grown. The statewide population is between 250,000 and 750,000.
“They're not coming from anywhere, they're just here,” said Niamh Quinn, UC Cooperative Extension vertebrate pest management advisor who specializes in managing human-wildlife conflict. “They're now established in urban communities and they're reproducing successfully.”
Some Southern Californians believe the coyotes move to urban areas because of food and water shortages in the nearby hills, but Quinn disagrees.
“The coyote is going to try to expend the least amount of energy to get the maximum amount of food,” Quinn said. “Why would you stay in a more rural area where you have to go catch a rabbit when you can stick your head in a garbage can and get the same nourishment?”
Timm, who served as director of the UC Hopland Research and Extension Center in Mendocino County, has 27 years of experience dealing with coyote management.
Timm said coyotes can find ample food in suburban and urban areas by scrounging through garbage and compost piles, eating pet food and even small dogs and cats. Water is available in ponds, birdbaths and pools. Some people intentionally feed coyotes.
“The difficulty is there is so little research on coyotes in suburban and urban areas because it is so hard to do,” Timm said.
Research conducted in the early 2000s by Timm and a Cal Poly Pomona professors found that coyotes habituate in urban areas in a predictable manner than can be observed along the following seven steps:
- Increased coyote presence on streets and in yards at night
- An increase in coyotes non-aggressively approaching adults and/or taking pets at night
- Coyotes present on streets or in parks and yards during morning or afternoon hours
- Coyotes chasing or taking pets in the daytime
- Coyotes attacking or taking pets while they are on a leash or near their owners, and coyotes chasing joggers, bicyclists, and other adults
- Coyotes present around children's play areas, schools or parks in the midday hours
- Coyotes acting aggressively toward adults in midday hours
“One of those steps is they start attacking and killing pets,” Timm said. “When they start doing that in the daytime, then it becomes very problematic and some of those coyotes are eventually going to become aggressive toward people."
According to Niamh Quinn, the UC ANR Cooperative Extension area vertebrate pest advisor, based at the UC ANR South Coast Research and Extension Center, there were six recorded coyote bites on humans in Irvine this year.