Giving credence to the saying, “While the cat’s away, the mice will play,” a new study indicates that pumas and medium-sized carnivores lie low when they sense the presence of humans, which frees up the landscape for rodents to forage more brazenly.
Humans are top predators of many wildlife species, and our mere presence can create a “landscape of fear,” according to researchers at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Fear of humans suppresses the movement and activity of pumas, bobcats, skunks, and opossums, which benefits small mammals. As their own predators respond to their fear of humans, deer mice and wood rats perceive less risk and in turn forage for food farther away and more intensively, they found….
Given the rising prevalence of rodent-spread diseases in LA and SF, maybe the public health officials should be releasing cats.