Two Hawk Deaths at Cornell Illustrate Hazards Faced by Urban Birds

By Miyoko Chu, Senior Director of Communications, Cornell Lab
September 9, 2013
Hunting juvenile Red-tailed Hawk Surviving Red-tailed Hawk fledgling D2 on the hunt. Photo by Christine Bogdanowicz.

UPDATE: In August 2014, DNA analysis revealed surprising new information about the young hawks described in this post. For the full story, see DNA Tests Determine Whether 2013’s Injured Hawks Came From Bird Cams Nest.

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On the morning of August 9, 2013, a Cornell University mechanic found a dead hawk on the sidewalk near Bradfield Hall on campus. The bird was on its back, its feathers wet from heavy rains. After contacting the Animal Health Diagnostic Center at the Cornell College of Veterinary Medicine, he carefully placed the hawk in a bag and brought it to them.

That same morning, Dr. John Parks at the Cornell Raptor Program received a call. A passerby had spotted an injured hawk on a nearby road half a mile away from Bradfield Hall. Dr. Parks, a licensed rehabilitator, brought the injured bird to the wildlife health center in the Cornell College of Veterinary Medicine.

News spread quickly to the Cornell Lab, where we learned that both hawks were juveniles. Based on their locations, we knew there was a good chance that they were the young of Big Red and Ezra, the Red-tailed Hawks featured on our live Bird Cams. For the past two years, more than three million people around the world have witnessed the hawks building their nest high above campus, watched as Big Red laid her eggs, and waited with anticipation as the chicks inside began cracking their way out of the shell. These chicks, nicknamed D1, D2, and D3, grew up and fledged before our very eyes. And though participants in the live chat often worried about the fledglings, knowing that more than half of red-tails typically do not survive beyond their first year—it was hard to imagine losing even one of these young hawks that we knew so well.

It was enough of a blow that one was found injured and another dead on the same day—but even sadder to realize that the causes were probably related to their urban environment. The diagnostic center reported that the hawk by Bradfield Hall had died from blunt force trauma. We’ll never know the exact cause, but it probably collided with a building or a vehicle. At the wildlife health center, the veterinarians treated the other hawk for severe injuries to his feet and legs, but had to euthanize him several days later because the injuries were too extensive to allow recovery and quality of life. The nature of the injuries suggested that the hawk’s feet and legs may have become caught in something human-made such as a gutter or piece of machinery.

Meanwhile, the cams community responded with an outpouring of Facebook posts and email messages—people sharing their good memories of the hawks, sadness over the losses, appreciation for the veterinary team that cared for the injured one, and thoughts about how to make the world a safer place for birds. Though we don’t know whether the hawks’ injuries occurred on campus or nearby areas, the Cornell facilities team has looked at photos we’ve sent of the hawks’ favorite perches. They plan to inspect gutters, fans, and other possible hazards when they do annual maintenance, with hawk safety in mind. Local observers are looking into whether wildlife crossing signs could be added along the state highway where Ezra often hunts.

The Cornell hawks are lucky to have so many people looking out after them. But what about all the places a young hawk might travel when it disperses from its home here at Cornell? What about the adjacent family of red-tails on the golf course, or the pair that nests in the Falls Creek Gorge—or the hawks in your own neighborhood? All across North America, there are red-tails like Big Red and Ezra, with their own families, their own stories and challenges. And there are hundreds of other bird species, some of which suffer even greater tolls on their populations than the adaptable Red-tailed Hawk.

Aside from habitat loss and destruction, which is a leading cause of declines in birds, direct mortality from human-related causes is estimated to be more than one billion birds each year in the United States. According to a USDA Forest Service study published in 2005 (available as a PDF), collisions with structures may kill 550 million birds each year, power lines 130 million, and vehicles 80 million. A 2013 study published in Nature Communications estimated that cats alone kill 1.4 billion to 3.7 billion birds each year.

Estimating these numbers is challenging because people find and report only a fraction of dead birds (experimental studies have shown that other animals scavenge most dead birds within 24 hours), but even these best estimates are staggering. Sadly, stories of other beloved raptors from around the country, like that of the Cornell hawks, reflect the ubiquitous hazards that birds encounter, on a more personal level. This year, two young hawks from the Franklin Institute’s cam struck windows and died. A third was hit by a car, rehabilitated, and released. In 2012, two young Bald Eagles, D12 and D14, from the Decorah, Iowa, cam were electrocuted on power poles. In New York City that same year, three Red-tailed Hawks including Lima, the mate of the famed Pale Male, died from rodenticides after eating poisoned prey. The year before that, the female Bald Eagle from the Norfolk Botanical Garden cam in Virginia died after being struck by an airplane.

The statistics can be so numbing that people sometimes despair that the dangers to birds are too pervasive to tackle. But something powerful happens when we follow the fates of individual birds. They cause us to care so much that our hearts ache, and we feel that we can and should do something to help. In New York City, citizens successfully lobbied to stop the use of rodenticides in Washington Square Park. In Decorah, eagle enthusiasts worked with local energy companies to create safer perches near the nest site. At the Franklin Institute, the college plans to install banners featuring student work in certain windows to prevent future collisions.

What if each of the millions of people who watch bird cams did something to make their own neighborhood a little safer for birds? Would it matter if we could save a few more birds? If you think of Big Red, Ezra, and the young hawks we watched fly out into the world, perhaps you agree that the answer is yes. Maybe collectively we could save even more than a few.

What are some of the ways?

  • To reduce window collisions, place your bird feeder far enough from windows that birds won’t scatter into them if startled. Or move them to within one or two feet of windows so that collisions won’t be as forceful. If you work in an office building, turn off lights at night to avoid attracting and confusing migrating birds. For more tips on making windows safer at home and at work, visit the Fatal Light Awareness Program website.
  • To reduce collisions with vehicles, keep within the speed limit. Even an extra second or two can help you avoid colliding with birds and other wildlife, making it safer for them and for you. Slower speeds can also result in better gas mileage and reduce greenhouse gases.
  • Cats are one of the leading causes of mortality for birds, and people can make a big difference here. Keep your cats indoors, speak up in your community to prevent feral cat colonies from becoming established, and help your neighbors understand how cats affect bird populations. Keeping cats indoors is safer for cats, too. For more information, visit the American Bird Conservancy’s Cats Indoors web page.
  • Concerned about whether power lines in your area might cause electrocution or collision risks for birds? The Avian Power Line Interaction Committee website offers information and protection plans.
  • Avoid using anticoagulant rodenticides around your home. Inquire with your city park to find out what they are using. Hawks that eat poisoned prey may die from hemorrhaging. To learn more about these rodenticides, visit the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation website.
  • Please support the work of land trusts and conservation organizations, including the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s efforts to improve the appreciation and protection of birds through science, education, and conservation.
  • Share a bird cam with a friend.

Please share more ideas and let us know what you’ve found works best around your home or in your community to make the world a safer place for birds.

Comments

  • John Stewart-Smith

    It seems that, statistically, cats, buildings, power lines and vehicles lead the field in causing the deaths of birds. Make it illegal to own a cat, to construct a building more than one storey high, bury all power lines underground and govern all vehicles to a maximum speed of 5 mph (fast walking pace).

    OK. What’s the next problem?

  • Claudia Thomas

    As one of those millions who watched D1-3 from the day they were born (appropriately Earth Day for two of them), it was indeed heartbreaking to hear of the loss. Cornell’s bird cams have been a blessing in many ways, not just for the beauty of what we get to see every day, but because of the community it has built through the chat feature.

    As hard as it is knowing that this can happen again, I will continue to watch, and do everything possible to protect this wonderful species.

  • Mikal Deese, CWR

    Dear John,
    Great proposals! Then address the basic problem that underlies all the environmental degradation we are seeing. Humans are only one species, yet we act as if the entire earth belongs to us alone. As long as the human population continues to multiply, we will continue to squeeze out everything else. I used to laugh at the “crazies” who marched around proclaiming “THE END IS NEAR” on homemade signs, but now admit that I can see it. We will ultimately kill ourselves off, and it won’t be pretty.

  • Christine Wright

    First it’s global warming, then climate change and now the Polar ice cap has increased by 900,000 square miles when it was supposed to be all gone by 2014. I love all God’s creatures but we need to stop feeding into this lie about climate change. We need to stop subsidizing wind turbines which kill as astronomical amount of birds. Be an environmentalist but lets be real and honest about the billions of dollars wasted on belly up green cars, solar subsidies, the decimation of our coal industry, soaring gas prices etc. Think how we could have spent that money to better protect our environment and the animals? More national parks, more sanctuaries inland and at sea.

  • Now that’s empathy!

  • Jim Gonsman

    John, your sarcasm is unfounded. It is not necessary eliminate house cats. All that we need do is keep them in the house where they are healthier, safer, and not a threat to all manner of wildlife including birds, reptiles, and even rodents that are an important source of food for raptors, owls, fox, etc. There are several ways to make buildings a lesser hazard short of tearing them down. And there are many reasons to bury power lines including aesthetic benefits, reduction of damages and outages due to weather conditions and increased security. Give a try.

  • Robin

    Totally uncalled for, John.

  • Anne P.

    To keep things more realistic (not sure if you are serious or just being sarcastic): please keep all cats indoors, turn off the office lights in tall buildings at night to avoid migration collisions, fit new power poles and retrofit existing power poles with raptor protection equipment (it DOES work) and do not speed because it is the right thing to do for everyone, not just wildlife.

  • Amy K

    John Stewart-Smith,

    There are better, more reasonable compromises than those you suggest in your comment. Please re-read the above article.

  • Julie

    I love all avian and mammal species alike. However, as much as I love birds, I am appalled by your suggestion to advocate for the prevention of feral cat colonies. Feral cats are product of irresponsible and selfish HUMANS. In short, the cats are in these colonies because we HUMANS put them there and, to add insult to injury, you now want to punish the cats for what HUMANS did to them by trying to prevent the establishment of colonies with human caretakers?

    Feral cat colonies are critical for reducing the population of outdoor cats (and, hence, cat predation on birds), as the animals in these colonies are all spay/neutered and fed cats are less likely to hunt. Thus, if you want to do something to reduce cat predation on birds, your time is better spent advocating for responsible pet ownership, including spaying/neutering, and keeping cats indoors, not eliminating cat colonies.

    As for the 2013 study you cited on the impact of cats on wildlife, it is a poor exemplar of scientific research. Have you read it? I am a researcher and I can say, without a doubt, that this study would have never gotten published in my discipline. It’s pure junk science.

  • Barbara Frazier

    The first step in making progress of any kind is to realize it is possible. How often are opportunities for change wasted because of a general sense that problems are just too big to handle? Can’t solve the world’s problems today? Pick something you can do, and do it. Today, not tomorrow. Pay attention to what is going on in your neighborhood. That’s how we see the possibilities that may never hit big media. For instance, a friend was complaining that the hawk that she used to see around her house was no longer there. She complained that she was having rodent problems. I asked if she was using rat poison. When she said she was, I pointed out the likely connection between the poison, lack of hawks, and now more rodents. I suggested several measures she could take to reduce the rodent problem without using poisons that could kill the neighborhood hawks. I think many times people just need to become aware of connections and possibilities.

  • Catherine Robertson

    Sticking large stickers to the glass sliding-doors of my sundeck, seems to deter feeding birds at my seed and hummingbird feeders which then avoid hitting the glass. Also, the door is only about 3.5 feet from the feeders so, as you pointed out above, not too close for them to build up any speed if they leave in a panic. (My stickers are large Christmas stickers so look silly in summer etc. but my friends and family are long used to my “birds first’ policies !) :>)

  • Catherine Robertson

    I have filled in BOTH ‘marked’ fields !
    CR

  • Sharon popp

    We’ve had good luck with hanging feathers on our large windows – reduced bird strikes to almost zero

  • Jacquie Laughlin

    @John Stewart-Smith: I cannot imagine what led you to make such a ridiculous and unfeeling comment. I only hope you are not one of my neighbors! We are all stewards of this beautiful planet and all of its inhabitants. As one of the many people who have invested much time and emotion in observing these beautiful Red Tail Hawks at Cornell University, I am saddened by the callous nature of your attitude. The scientists and staff at Cornell deserve better than that. I urge you to watch the live bird cams next Spring. You may find out why so many of us feel fortunate to share the world with these fascinating creatures!

  • Winnie Bush

    Mr. Smith above is being a little irrational and rather ridiculous with his suggestions. With a speed limit of 5 mph, no body would get anywhere. I can’t imagine making cat ownership illegal. Surely his remarks were tongue in cheek.

  • Robin Springer

    I remember watching those little ones grow; so sorry that happened to them :(

  • Hugh

    Hi Catherine – comments are held for moderation before they appear online—that’s why your comment didn’t appear before now. Sorry for the delay and thanks for your suggestions. – Hugh

  • Christine

    I was saddened to read about the death of D1 and D3. I too watched eagerly each day to observe their growth and progress via the wonderful Cornell nestcam. I am curious what the difference in life expectancy is between a hawk living in a more urban environment versus a more rural setting.

  • Diae

    I am sorry to read about the death of the two young hawks. Watching their nest provides a great learning opportunity for young and old and the pleasure of viewing this family raise their young for many who cannot see them (certainly not this closely) in the wild. Understanding, compassion, and a shared sense of the value of natural life are the key values needed if wild creatures are to survive amongst 7 billion (and growing) humans. Watching nest cams builds connection, connection fosters caring, caring fosters simple advocacy like watching to avoid running over birds, poisoning them with pesticides or lead, and detering them from flying into buildings. Godspeed, hawks, and hopes for nest season for Big Red and Ezra.

  • Susan Woodall

    Thank you Julie. I agree with you 100% Humans have taken down sooooo many trees in the last several hundred years, where are the birds to live and breed? Back when there were plenty of trees and forests, all cats lived outside because there was no such thing as commercial cat food and cat litter.

  • Anne P.

    I believe that it is unreasonable to leave feral cat populations to thrive in any open outdoor space, no matter how much guilt some humans might have over the irresponsibility of poor pet owners. Since you are a researcher, I’m sure you are aware that blanket statements made to support your beliefs, whether correct or not, are usually not the wise thing to do.

    Of course there are studies (more than one if you check) stating the many problems that feral cat populations bring to wild birds. Feral cats colonies may be the result of irresponsible pet ownership, but it does not mean that because the problem is human caused, that all indigenous wild birds and small mammals have to suffer the consequences. Also, your assuming that because feral cats have been neutered or spayed that they are not causing any problems is just ridiculous! And, since feral cats are not a native species to the United States, they should not warrant protection. Feral cats ARE repeatedly harming or killing federally protected native species by the millions, which is not okay.

    And before you say that I must hate cats, I want you to know that I currently have four cats and for their continued health and safety (and the health and safety of the local small animals, reptiles and birds), they have NEVER been outside!

  • Mikal Deese, CWR

    I agree with you that humans are responsible for the population of feral cats, however leaving them free to predate on native species is only continuing the irresponsibility. If we care to “save” them, then provide true sanctuary for them, where they are contained and protected. Do not re-abandon them in an environment where they do not belong.
    I am a permitted wild bird rehabilitator. I’m really tired of watching birds die in my care after cat inflicted wounds and infections.

  • Sylvia

    Julie, I’m in total agreement with you. Slautering cats is not the answer here. Using TNR (Trap, neuter, release) on feral communities will reduce the numbers of feral cats effectively without useless killing.

  • Jim Gonsman

    Thank you Anne and Mikal.

  • C Smith

    I am saddened by the deaths of D1 and D3. I hope that D2 does not meet with the same fate.

  • Jim Gonsman

    Sylvia, no one here is proposing to slaughter cats. How about TNA (trap, neuter, adopt)? And this is not just about feral cats but applies to all house cats that allowed to forage outside. There is no peer reviewed research and no line of logic that wold suggest that TNR programs reduce predation of cats on wild animals. And, if you don’t accept the research of scientists at Cornell and elsewhere that shows that outdoor cats kill hundreds of millions of birds each year, just look at what your own cat brings home.

  • Sylvia

    Jim, my cats never bring home anything as they are inside only cats. Yes, cats do kill birds. It’s the way God made them. I’m not saying that people should allow their cats to roam – I’m saying slaughtering feral cats is bad and needless. Humans are far more of a threat to birds and every thing else on earth than any cat. Cats also kill mice and other pests to humans.

  • Sylvia

    Jim, I failed to answer your question about why not trap, neuter and adopt. Truly feral cats are not adoptable in most cases. There is a big difference between stray cats and feral cats.

  • Thank you for all you do at Cornell.

    Every single one of us needs to ask ourselves why is the Federal Government and Delaware allowing the Red Knot population to sink toward extinction? Why has Obama’s people not put this bird on the endangered species list? Very simple things can be done in Delaware to allow this beautiful bird to increase its numbers.

    Why does Daytona Beach and some other beaches allow cars on the beach, killing many nesting shorebirds? Why is hunting and fishing allowed in National Wildlife Refuges? That is insane. Monofilament line maims and kills birds by the millions–I know, I volunteer at a rehab facility.

    As Miyoko Chu wrote here, feral cats and household cats outside kill birds by the billions. Why do local and state governments allow free roaming domestic predators killing wildlife?

    I think each and every one of us needs to get very proactive with your local politicians, city councils, county commissioners, and your Senators re Federal stupidity (like hunting in wildlife refuges and the Red Knot, e.g.) and put a stop to the horrible “business as usual” practices that threatens so many of the species that make the earth wonderful. The numbers of many species are crashing. The number of species threatened with extinction is horrifying.

    If you are relying on other people to do your talking for you, you will lose many species for eternity. Everybody needs to write a few snail mail letters each year, attend a few public hearings and make your voice heard, etc. If you do not, then when species go extinct, you will be the one to blame along with the others.

  • Jim Gonsman

    Sylvia, I am glad to hear that your cats, at least, are not part of the problem. i don’t suppose that I will change your views on this issue but here is one last effort.

    God did not make house cats, people did. Just like dogs, house cats are domesticated versions of a wild animal that never existed in the wild and could not exist there now if not for continuing support from people. They make wonderful companions but they are detrimental to wildlife when allowed to roam and forage. We do not allow that with dogs and should not allow that with house cats. Feral and stray cats are a hazard to wildlife and are the result of human activities as much so as automobiles and buildings. Justifying support for feral cats by citing other people caused hazards to wildlife is like justifying ownership of assault weapons because people are also dying of cancer. Cats are not needed to control mice and other “pests.” If people could take responsibility for keeping their homes, basements and garages clean, raptors, owls, reptiles, and a variety of mammals would do that job very nicely by themselves. They have millions of years of experience and are very proficient.

  • John I see your point and I find you reaction to this whole event quite amusing. I am a falconer’s apprentice and do my best to help the raptors that I can help and as dangerous as they are cats are not a huge problem. The larger experienced raptors can put up a good fight with a cat. As for the power lines we can’t do much about them other than hope for the best.
    -Elijah

  • Julie,
    I think that you are taking this to seriously. Sometimes you just have to listen instead of hearing. Look at what they say and then look at who they are. A lot of the time they can’t do anything so there is no need to get upset.
    -Elijah

  • Jim Gonsman

    Elijah, certainly house cats are not often a direct hazard to falcons, other raptors, wading birds, etc., in fact, the tables are often turned. I have seen several house cat carcasses below great horned owl nests. One more reason to keep a house cat in the house. But house cats are competing with falcons, etc. for food (rodents and reptiles) and they are a direct hazard to many other birds especially those that forage and nest on the ground. Depending on which study you read, 500 million to 1 billion dead birds in this country every year is a huge problem in my book.

  • “Cats are not a huge problem”???

    Cats KILL BIRDS BY THE BILLIONS. Not “millions”-BILLIONS.

    Elijah, I am a lover of raptors. You should have your permit or license stripped to handle raptors since you just showed you may not be of sound mind to work with animals. Wild cats should be rounded up, held for a day or two, then euthanized if not claimed.

  • you are obviously way to high up to knock over why am I even trying? If you were any kind of ‘Lover’ of any animal you would know the importance of every animal and suggesting to kill the animals doing what comes naturally is not the smartest thing possible. I have worked harder to gain this licences than you ever will, I probably know more about this topic than you you could hope for. Cats are not the biggest problem we are. We introduced cats to these areas and they obviously have the instinct to kill birds so what is the difference between wild and domestic cats? The difference is that we bring the cats to the birds, the raptors don’t come to the cats. So if you feel so strongly about this why don’t you start attacking the owners of cats not the cats themselves. Maybe next time you should do some thinking instead of talking.

  • Elijah, you said, “cats are not a huge problem”. There are over one billion birds killed each year by cats and to say “cats are not a huge problem” is ludicrous. Bird numbers are crashing all over the world and in the USA. Stopping cats from killing over one billion birds annually is something this nation must do as well as address the other reasons for the crashing of bird populations.

  • Robert have you done any research other than cats killing birds? search the other way around. you may not get very many results but eventually you will find that raptors that hunt any thing the size of a rabbit regularly eat cats. check this out and notice the fact that they eat them regularly.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2224445/Pictured-The-astonishing-moment-barred-owl-snatched-domestic-cat-meal.html

  • First … I do not “do” research: I STUDY research. Good research is proven with proper sample sizes, hypothesis testing and other statistical measuring tools. The study that did the “cats kill over a billion birds each year” I trust because it was a well done study.

    Second … A cat can weigh from 10 to 15 pounds. They have talons and are strong for their size. You know how much a Barred Owl weighs? Maybe 1 and 1/2 pounds. I have seen a Barred Owl struggle big time with a squirrel. Traffic stopped on a street while the Barred Owl took two minutes to move the squirrel a few feet off the ground, unable to lift it, finally dragging it the final few feet off to the side. I volunteer at a rehab center for birds of prey and the raptors (that includes owls, Elijah) that come in maimed, dead and so badly injured we have to euthanize them from cats and dogs attacking them is staggering.

    Three … ever hear of Adobe and Photoshop?

    Four … even if somehow an owl or hawk does manage to snare a cat (eight times or more the body mass of a Barred Owl), then you are talking a FEW instances worldwide over the course of a year. Compare that to a BILLION birds killed each year by cats. C’mon Elijah, start doing some self-education in science journals and magazines or websites on nature and conservation. Donate to Cornell, get BNA Online from Cornell and read their blogs, etc.

  • cawing.all.crows

    Wow..what a heartbreaking story:-(
    Rest in peace…my feathered friends!!
    As with many bird lovers,i’m sure,i’ve become very attached to the many beautiful birds that visit my feeding station each year…and having witnessed attacks on these lovely creatures by the neighborhood cats owned by irresponsible cat owners is absolutely horrifying!
    It has become such a problem that i have to “hold up stakes” in my “OWN” yard to try to prevent these appalling injuries and deaths!!!
    I’ve addressed the problem with several of the cat owners..to no avail!!
    I most definitely think the same laws that apply to dogs should also apply to cats!
    Allowing a cat to roam the neighborhood is not only detrimental to wildlife…but to the cats themselves…”SO, HEY,CAT OWNERS(not all,just the irresponsible ones)… IF YOU CAN’T MUSTER THE CONCERN AND COMPASSION FOR THE MANY,MANY SPECIES OF WILDLIFE YOUR CATS MAME AND KILL, ATLEAST CARE ENOUGH FOR YOUR OWN CATS SAFETY AND WELL-BEING!!!” “KEEP THEM OUT OF HARMS WAY AND KEEP THEM INDOORS!!!!!!!”

  • Jim Gonsman

    Elijah, if you are suggesting that feral and free roaming house cats can be justified because they provide a source of food for raptors, you are missing the point and sadly mistaken. If not, what is your point?

  • Carole Giangrande

    What a moving article. As a participant in the hawk-watch in Washington Square Park, I regret to say that the park has once again begun to use a highly toxic rodenticide, endangering the lives of Bobby and Rosie, the resident Red-Tailed Hawks. We are circulating a petition detailing the problem and asking for the removal of the rodenticide Bromadiolone. Perhaps you’d be interested in signing and/or publicizing this petition. Here’s the link: http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/WSPhawks. Thank you.

  • Diane Rooney

    Thanks for letter us know, Carole. I have signed the petition and sent it on to friends. I am an NYU alum and many years ago lived on Washington Square. I love the hawks and would hate to see anything happen to them. It was very upsetting what happened in Central Park, horrifying. To whom is the petition addressed? To the University administration? Thanks again. Diane

  • RJ

    I live in a large city with a huge feral cat population. Not only do they kill wildlife, mostly squirrels and birds, but they also breed and fight (terrible sounds at night)and the resulting kittens end up in our cars (not inside the passenger compartment) and I have had to rescue them from dogs. The neighbor’s dog killed 3 kittens and the feral mother. I saved 2 which was difficult because the kittens are as feral as the mothers. I am sick and tired of them. They are NOT pets but extremely wild. They are even at the local gas station scrounging for food. There is no program or effort to control this significant problem. In fact you have to trap and find someplace for the cats yourself if you want to get rid of them, unlike dogs which animal control organzations will trap and pick up. If I could make them disappear I would.

  • Cyndie Raposa

    Where I live in California some folks have taken to shooting cats (both feral and domesticated) with paint ball guns. When I first learned of a neighbor doing it I was outraged. He claimed to shoot any cat who stalked his bird feeders. But later he confided that he used the least powerful paintgun on the market. He reminded me that the guns are designed for very low impact on their targets. kids use the same guns to shoot each other all of the time, He has shot 3 cats over the course of 2 and 1/2 years. They painted ones never come back. the paint is 100% non toxic. And it is a good way to let the owners know that their cat had been somewhere it should not have been.