Dr. Susan Willson Research News
Dr. Susan Willson and student researchers Iyi Okunlola and Jessica Novak (both Conservation Biology majors) have been spending lots of time thinking about cats and birds since last semester. In September, they initiated a study examining a novel cat collar that may decrease the frequency of songbird mortality through hunting by cats. The collar, which consists of a brightly colored and patterned cloth cover over a quick-release collar, alerts birds to the presence of hunting cats, and potentially allows them to fly off before being captured by a cat. Dr. Willson and her students found 60 willing local owners and cats to perform a 10-week controlled trial of the collars, from September through November 2013. This semester, they will examine the evidence- they’ll be sifting through all of the collected dead prey items from their cats (including mice, chipmunks, voles and birds) to determine if the collars decreased bird hunting while cats wore the collars versus when they did not. Their work has been highlighted on North Country Public Radio, and in local TV and print news, and they look forward to sharing their results. Dr. Willson and her two students will also be submitting their results for publication in a peer-reviewed conservation journal.
More information about buying a BirdsBeSafe ® cat collar cover can be found here: