2016 Volume 3 Issue 2 Pages 1-13
To protect endangered endemic species from predation by domestic cats (Felis silvestris catus) in Amami-Ohshima Island, Japan, the five local governments on the island issued a regulation in October 2011 on the proper raising and management of domestic cats. We studied the changes in owned and unowned free-roaming cats' activities in a mountain forest (2 km2 in size), near residential areas in Amami City, following the enforcement of the regulation, specifically the prohibition on cat feeding. A camera-trapping method was used to monitor cat activities for six months, prior to the regulation being in force, (2010-2011), and for seven months following the regulations' enforcement (2011-2012).
In response to food availability following the regulation enforcement, the number of unowned cats decreased by almost half, and their activities shifted to nocturnal. Moreover, both owned cats and unowned free-roaming cats tended to utilize the forest interior more than other areas (forest roadside and forest edge adjacent to the residential areas).
Although the goal of the regulation is the protection of endemic species against domestic cat predation, the results of the present study indicate that the regulation will increase rather than decrease predation risk to endemic species. Therefore, even though the prohibition on feeding can be effective in reducing free-roaming cat reproduction in the long-term, more direct approaches, such as the removal of free-roaming cats from the endemic species' habitats, might be more effective in the short-term, as well as educating cat owners on the risks owned free-roaming cats pose to endemic species.