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

Izabela A. Wierzbowska , Joanna Olko , Magdalena Hędrzak , Kevin R. Crooks


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.
Author Izabela A. Wierzbowska (JU-IoES)
Izabela A. Wierzbowska,,
- Institute of Environmental Sciences, Jagiellonian University
, Joanna Olko (JU-IoES)
Joanna Olko,,
- Institute of Environmental Sciences, Jagiellonian University
, Magdalena Hędrzak (DoAS / HBZ-KHB)
Magdalena Hędrzak,,
- Department of Cattle Breeding
, Kevin R. Crooks (CSU-DoFWaCB)
Kevin R. Crooks,,
- Colorado State University - Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology
Journal seriesMammalian Biology, ISSN 1616-5047, (A 30 pkt)
Issue year2012
Keywords in EnglishFelis silvestris catus; Home range; Movement; Poland; Radio-telemetry
Languageen angielski
Score (nominal)30
Citation count*9 (2016-08-11)
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* presented citation count is obtained through Internet information analysis and it is close to the number calculated by the Publish or Perish system.
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