Cats Ruthlessly Hunt Down at Least 1.4 Billion Birds Each Year

J.K. Trotter

Each year in the continental United States, at least 1.4 billion birds die in the sharp, uncaring fangs of domesticated cats, according to a major study published today in Nature Communications. And that's the conservative estimate — the study shows that the real number of birds killed by cats could be closer to 3.7 billion. The study's authors say these new estimates paint a bleak picture of how cats affect nearby wildlife:

Our findings suggest that free-ranging cats cause substantially greater wildlife mortality than previously thought and are likely the single greatest source of anthropogenic mortality for US birds and mammals.

In other words: Jonathan Franzen, the American novelist and avid birder, was right all along. Or least protagonist of his most recent novel, Walter Berglund, was. The final chapter of Freedom features a testy dispute, between him and neighborhood mother, over the impact of cats on the bird population of rural Minnesota, so its author ought to feel vindicated about today's new findings:

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