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Mammalian Biology

, Volume 77, Issue 3, pp 204–210 | Cite as

Free-ranging domestic cats reduce the effective protected area of a Polish national park

  • Izabela A. WierzbowskaEmail author
  • Joanna Olko
  • Magdalena Hędrzak
  • Kevin R. Crooks
Original Investigation

Abstract

Poland’s Animal Protection Act, as of 2002, made it legal to shoot free-ranging cats and dogs. The act triggered substantial social debate with opponents arguing that this legislation was weakly supported by scientific evidence of the ecological impacts of free-ranging pets. Our main research goal was to examine the activity of free-ranging domestic cats within a Polish protected area by applying radio-telemetry methods to determine space use and degree of encroachment into the national park. We trapped and radio-tracked 19 animals from three sites (focal households) located in Ojcow National Park (ONP) in southern Poland from June 2003 to March 2006. Annual 100% MCP home range size varied from 0.02 km2 to 1.46 km2, and was significantly larger for males (mean ± SE = 0.79 ± 0.34 km2; median = 0.53 km2 ) than for females (mean ± SE = 0.13 ± 0.05 km2; median = 0.13 km2). The distance travelled by individual cats from focal sites did not significantly differ between males (mean ± SE = 232.00 ± 21.05 m; median = 191 m) and females (mean ± SE = 232.50 ± 12.47 m; median = 228 m), with maximum distances of 1.5 km for males and 1.1 km for females. All monitored cats were in close proximity to nature reserves and ranged into protected areas without any human control. Cats living in the households in the park and its surrounding buffer zone, roaming at 200 m and 1000 m radius distances from their households, occupied from 6% to 100% of the park area, respectively. Our results reveal that free-ranging domestic cats roam through and potentially impact the entire national park, thus reducing its effective protected area.

Keywords

Felis silvestris catus Home range Movement Poland Radio-telemetry 

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Copyright information

© Deutsche Gesellschaft für Säugetierkunde 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Izabela A. Wierzbowska
    • 1
    Email author
  • Joanna Olko
    • 1
  • Magdalena Hędrzak
    • 2
  • Kevin R. Crooks
    • 3
  1. 1.Institute of Environmental SciencesJagiellonian UniversityKrakowPoland
  2. 2.Department of Breeding Methods and Management of Farm and Wild AnimalsUniversity of AgricultureKrakowPoland
  3. 3.Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Conservation BiologyColorado State UniversityFort CollinsUSA

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