Friday, April 24, 2009
Cats Will Be Trapped and Killed "On The Spot" by U.S Navy
I am enraged at an article I read recently. I am appalled at the ignorance behind these proposed and current actions. They are killing one species to save another.
Apparently, in the 1950's, people brought cats to San Nicolas Island, a small island (the island is 9 miles long and about 3.5 miles wide) off the coast of California, to help control rat populations and as personal pets. Now, because the seabirds and shorebirds are declining, the Navy has decided it is time to kill all the feral cats on the island because they say that cats are killing the birds. The primary method of capturing these feral cats will be through padded leg traps or being shot!
Those not deemed healthy will be trapped and killed "on the spot". What is just as appalling is that the Navy went to the Humane Society of the U.S for advice and the HSUS will take custody of any healthy cats. The HSUS, does not have a shelter and are not affiliated with any shelter or other organization. They have no facilities for taking care of cats or any animal for that matter. They are also known for promoting killing dogs from dog fighting rings, killing feral cats, they do not agree with the No Kill philosophy and they are "friends" with PeTA.
Why wouldn't the Navy contact an actual feral cat organization such as Alley Cat Allies to deal with a feral cat issue? The island has an estimated 100-200 feral cats on the island and the Navy does not want to get these cats fixed and wait for their natural decline. They also claim there is no way to identify cats who are fixed and cite that as one reason why they do not want to do TNR. (What is TNR?) Obviously, they are not familiar with the process because all feral cats who are fixed are "eartipped". They must not have done too much investigating into it if they don't know that.
Currently, they are already shooting feral cats (which might be a crime) as a "necessary management action". In the news articles, they leave out some important information that I have copied verbatim and provided the sources for. They will use dogs to "hunt" the cats, causing them to run up trees and cliffs where experienced hunters will shoot them. The cats who run into fox holes will be surprised with a padded leg trap at their only exit. Other cats will be trapped in padded leg traps put randomly on the island with a few traditional "cage" traps being set.
During a 30-day public opinion period, they received 5,788 total comments. Of those, 4,323 were basically dismissed because they were form letters emailed to them with identical text.
They understand that their local shelter on the mainland is a high kill shelter and they even admit that healthy, adoptable animals were killed and that basically, feral cats won't have a chance.
They have had these birds die for years, supposedly because the cats are killing them. They know that the cats will not live very long. Why wouldn't they do the more humane thing? Spay and neuter the cats, return them and wait for them to die a natural death? The ways in which they are going to trap the cats sound horrendous.
What I want to know is how do they justify killing one species to save another?!
Be sure to contact:
Public Affairs Division Chief
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
6010 Hidden Valley Road
Carlsbad, CA 92011
Please read all of the information below and visit the source if you doubt it's authenticity. When available, I have provided information to locate the specific quote.
Currently, feral cats on San Nicolas Island are subject to periodic population control through trapping and hunting, a necessary management action undertaken by the Navy as part of their commitment to protecting wildlife on the island. (Q11- http://www.darrp.noaa.gov/southwest/montrose/pdf/San_Nic_FAQs_seabirds.pdf)
Once the cats are trapped, many will be euthanized on the spot. However, some of the kittens will be taken out and put up for adoption, and some of the healthy cats will be taken by the humane society. --U.S. Navy!
“Specially trained dogs will be used to track the scent of the feral cats in order to find their dens,” Hendron (Jane Hendron, spokeswoman for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife office in Carlsbad) said. “However, the dogs will never come in contact with the cats.”
Although the complete removal of the cats may appear to be a drastic measure, Hendron said it is imperative that the FWS remove every cat from the island, or the problem will just reoccur in the future.
“I myself have three cats,” Hendron said. “Sometimes difficult decisions must be made.” http://www.dailynexus.com/article.php?a=18738
Predation by feral cats is responsible for the extinction of at least 33 bird species (Lever 1994), including the Stephen Island wren (Traversia lyalli, New Zealand), Socorro dove (Zenaida graysoni, Mexico), and Guadalupe storm-petrel (Oceanodrama macrodactyla, Mexico). (D3.2 http://www.darrp.noaa.gov/southwest/montrose/pdf/msrp_rp_appendixd3.pdf)
Although the FWS has attempted to remove cats from San Nicholas in the past, cats that were not trapped or killed reproduced and the problem returned.
The plan entails the use of live traps, padded leg traps and hunters, as well as tracking dogs, to remove what are believed to be between 100 and 200 feral cats.
The wild cats came from domestic cats that escaped from their owners or were brought to hunt mice decades ago. There are records of feral cat populations back to the 1950s. Another source says, cats were first introduced to San Nicolas Island during the 1800s and later by Navy personnel. (D3.2.6 http://www.darrp.noaa.gov/southwest/montrose/pdf/msrp_rp_appendixd3.pdf)
Padded leg-hold live trapping is an effective technique for capturing feral cats on San Nicolas Island and will [be the] primary method used as part of the Proposed Action. -From an internal document from the Department of the Navy
After a short stay on-island, the cats may be transported to the mainland into the custody of HSUS and/or a similar USFWS-approved party if HSUS or other approved party provide adequate assurance that the cats would be cared for in an enclosed facility or other secure indoor location for the remainder of their lives. The enclosed facility or facilities would be required to maintain humane conditions and to prevent the cats from being able to adversely affect birds or other native wildlife. -From an internal document from the Department of the Navy
On June 17, 2008, the 30-day public comment period closed. The Service received approximately 5,788 comments from individuals, conservation groups, and other organizations in response to the Draft EA. Out of the 5,788 comments, a total of 1,465 represented unique comments. The remaining 4,323 comments were generic electronic form letter submissions that all contained identical statements regarding the proposed project. (p. 2
Feral cats may also carry diseases such as toxoplasmosis and rabies that can be transferred to the island fox and southern sea otter. Removal of the feral cat may potentially reduce the risk of disease to native wildlife. (Q3 http://www.darrp.noaa.gov/southwest/montrose/pdf/San_Nic_FAQs_seabirds.pdf )
The primary methods of euthanasia that would be used on San Nicolas Island are noninhalant pharmaceutical agents, such as potassium chloride combined with a general anesthetic, and physical methods, specifically an accurately placed gunshot. All persons implementing euthanasia would be appropriately trained in the technique used. (18.104.22.168 http://www.darrp.noaa.gov/southwest/montrose/pdf/San_Nicolas_Final_EA.pdf )
Dogs would be trained to find feral cats by following ground and / or wind-borne scents. Dogs would not attack the feral cats, but would “bail them”, that is drive them by barking, into holes, rocky features, or trees. The dog handler would shoot the feral cat when a clear, fatal shot can be delivered. In some instances, feral cats may be deep in holes. If this occurs, a live trap will be set at the entrance to the hole. (3.1.3 http://www.darrp.noaa.gov/southwest/montrose/pdf/San_Nicolas_Final_EA.pdf)
In order to protect native wildlife, Navy policy prohibits Trap-Neuter-Release (TNR) on their property; therefore, TNR is not an option on San Nicolas Island. Moving captured feral cats and releasing them into feral colonies on the mainland is not an appropriate option for this project. Given the negative impacts of feral cats on wildlife, the USFWS does not consider the addition of feral cats from San Nicolas Island to the existing free-roaming cat population on the mainland to be consistent with our obligations to protect wildlife. (Q9 http://www.darrp.noaa.gov/southwest/montrose/pdf/San_Nic_FAQs_seabirds.pdf )
Currently, feral cats on San Nicolas Island are subject to periodic population control through trapping and hunting, a necessary management action undertaken by the Navy as part of their commitment to protecting wildlife on the island. (Q11 http://www.darrp.noaa.gov/southwest/montrose/pdf/San_Nic_FAQs_seabirds.pdf )
The presence of neutered and re-abandoned feral cats on San Nicolas Island would greatly decrease the ability to trap the remaining un-neutered feral cats because of an inability to determine through traditional methods (sign, dog tracking, etc.) between feral cats that had already been neutered and re-abandoned and new or not previously trapped feral cats. (4.3.6 http://www.darrp.noaa.gov/southwest/montrose/pdf/San_Nicolas_Final_EA.pdf)
Between 2003 and 2007, as part of island fox population studies, box traps were set for a total of 4,292 trap nights. A total of four cats were caught in box traps during that time period. During the Pilot Program with HSUS in 2008, box traps were set for a total of 1,176 trap nights during which four cats were caught. The average capture success for box traps was 0.37 percent, with a low of 0.34 and a high of .40 percent (Garcelon 2009). During the Pilot Program, padded leg-hold traps were set for 71 trap nights during which three cats were caught. The average capture success for padded leg-hold traps was 5 percent, with a low of 4.2 and a high of 6.2 percent (Garcelon 2009). Overall, the capture success was 12-15 times greater for padded leg- hold traps over cage traps (Garcelon 2009). Comment #2 http://www.darrp.noaa.gov/southwest/montrose/pdf/San_Nicolas_Final_EA.pdf
Comment #1: Several commenters recommended that feeding stations be set up on San
Nicolas Island so the feral cats would not prey on native species.
Response: Cats are natural hunters and will instinctively continue to hunt even when other food is available. Due to rough topography and large roadless areas, maintaining feeding stations throughout the 14,230-acre island would be impractical. Any artificial food sources would also be taken advantage of by the island fox, thereby creating an unnatural situation for this species. (p. 85 http://www.darrp.noaa.gov/southwest/montrose/pdf/San_Nicolas_Final_EA.pdf
It is important to balance this challenge against difficult realities regarding the existing domesticated pet overpopulation, which poses an additional hurdle for these feral cats. Statistics from the local shelter on the mainland, Ventura County Animal Shelter, indicate that in 2006-2007, out of 3,608 cats in their care, 1,256 were adopted, 148 were reclaimed, and 2,157 were euthanized. Most of the animals euthanized were healthy, domestic adoptable cats (http://www.countyofventura.org/animalreg/ 2008). When viewed against these statistics, a feral cat has little chance of adoption.
For more information, contact:
Public Affairs Division Chief
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
6010 Hidden Valley Road
Carlsbad, CA 92011
Environmental Assessment for the Restoration and Protection of San Nicolas Island’s Native Fauna March 2009