Bird lover kills cat. Charged with crime.

muskyhopefulNovember 15, 2007

A well known bird watcher went to trial today for killing what he considered a feral cat. The cat was preying on rare birds in the Galveston area. Apparently it was being fed by a worker manning an area bridge. This man claims he owned the cat because he was feeding it, and the cat's killer in essence murdered a pet.

I personally think charging this well intentioned man is a farce. I'd be interested in hearing some other opinions.

Here's a link to an article with some more background.


Here is a link that might be useful: Bird watcher goes to trial for killing cat.

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I hope they throw the book at him!He needs to be charged!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Bookmark   November 15, 2007 at 1:22AM
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Why did he have to KILL the cat(s) at all? If they were a menace,he could have just called the pound or local animal rescue.Even moving the cats to another location would have been a better option then killing them (it).
Because this guy thinks it's ok to just walk around killing cats (obviously has mental issues) I think he should be punished.There were other ways he could have gotten rid of the cats without that leads me to believe he is a little insane and liked doing it.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2007 at 1:47AM
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Cats must be under control of the owners. It is not ok to let them wander around killing animals and damaging others property. We had a real problem with roaming cats in the neighborhood. These problem cats are not easily caught and removed. It high time people began taking responsibility for their animals. There is nothing natuaral about free roaming domestic animals preying on wildlife, or for that matter domestic animals either. Sometimes they must be destroyed. Calling animal control is not always a viable option, especially in more rural areas. Those people who wantonly kill others animals are in the minority and may have a problem but protecting yourself and wildlife is a just cause. The man should be warned but not punished.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2007 at 10:09AM
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Keep in mind when he killed this cat it was legal to shoot feral cats in Texas. The law was changed September 1, 2007 because of this case. The question for the trial is whether or not the bridge worker was the owner of the cat because he offered it food and threw a mattress on the ground for it and other feral cats in the area to sleep on under the bridge. The prosecution's case is based on the premise this man killed a pet because it was being fed, and therefore it was not a wild animal.

Does just putting out a bowl of food make you a cat's owner? What about taking it to the vet for shots, health checks, etc? Shouldn't those actions be what determines ownership? From what I gather feral cats can do a lot of damage. A year or so ago in Wisconsin the DNR tried to pass a law allowing hunters to shoot feral cats while in the woods because of their propensity to kill song birds, but it was withdrawn after a public outcry. This did not include city dwelling cats for obvious reasons.

Feral cats are hardly endangered, but the birds this guy felt he was protecting certainly are in trouble. Should concern for vanishing species outweigh the cuddly feeling people have for cats, even wild cats?

    Bookmark   November 15, 2007 at 10:21AM
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Circle of life.

Of course, I personally can't stand birds. There is no shortage of them around my house and they crap all over my deck and walkway to my house. They are also so noisy I can barely sleep with the windows open in the summer.

My fear with this guy is he seems a little (no a lot) obsessive and I'd be afraid for someone like him to have a gun.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2007 at 1:26PM
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Shooting an animal that you have no intention to eat, or that is not posing a threat to a person's life, is wrong. Period.

Other humane options are available besides killing. I don't particularly care about the legal aspects of the case, whether it was an owned cat and therefore illegal to kill it or a feral cat and then somehow OK to kill it. I don't agree with any law that allows a person to kill an animal that is not causing harm to people or intended to be eaten.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2007 at 3:23PM
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So, if it attacks my animals, and I dont care to eat it, I should leave it alone!! sure.

This same subject is being treated over at HOT TOPICS.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2007 at 8:00PM
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"My fear with this guy is he seems a little (no a lot) obsessive and I'd be afraid for someone like him to have a gun."
Where in the article do you see any indication this guy is "obsessive"? And even if he was what does that have to do with a person who had dedicated his life to saving and observing birds,trying to protect them from predators? From what the article says this man has has/had problems with feral cats on his property.Possibly this is the only way he has to deal with them.Maybe the city/county/humane society whatever will not come to him to pick up strays? Maybe there are other ways to deal with the problem but maybe all of us don't have the time,the means or the ability to take care of the problems in a more "humane" way ourselves.Maybe we could all look at the problem from the man's standpoint and not be so quick to judge.
Before we know it,animals are going to have more rights than humans,if not already in some cases!

    Bookmark   November 15, 2007 at 8:14PM
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It doesnt sound as though he killed this cat on his property.The article says he killed other cats on his property. Not the cat in question that lived under the bridge.
If that is the case,and the cat wasnt on his property,then he should get in trouble,as he doesnt need to be weilding a gun out in public.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2007 at 11:03PM
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The reason endangered birds (and many other species) are endangered is not because of cats, it is because of habitat destruction caused by HUMANS!! Yes, it's too bad that cats are further decimating certain bird species, but if habitat destruction was limited, endangered species would be able to recover, even with the presence of non-human predators.
I find it ironic that it's fine and dandy for people to cut down forests, fill in wetlands, etc., and destroy millions of acres of bird and animal habitat, but yet it's the feral cat population's fault that certain species are endangered?

    Bookmark   November 16, 2007 at 2:25PM
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IMO, cats are not a native species anywhere in North America and shouldn't be out killing anything on public property.

If this guy legitimately broke any sort of firearm law, fine. If Galveston allows cat owners to let their cats live under bridges (on what I assume is public property), then fine.

The law that makes it illegal to kill any cat...does it apply to Animal Control or any sort of shelter - if not, what difference does it make? That seems absurd to me. Why is it okay for Animal Control to euthanize a cat that is brought in as a stray (would MamaCat's "owner" have redeemed her from the shelter?) but not for this guy to euthanize them? As to whether or not .22 hollow points are suitable for cats or whether or not this guy was a good enough shot, I could see that being a point of contention. However, millions of animals are killed every year for lack of owners. The guy claiming to be the owner could have easily prevented this by taking the cat to his home, where most pet owners keep their pets.

I know none of my pets are living under a bridge. Are yours?

    Bookmark   November 17, 2007 at 11:12PM
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hey, where did ballistcics enter the debate. I can argue on that quite nicely!
Of course the .22 caliber is valid for this size target, in several of its configurations, from the .22 short to the .22 centerfire such as .22-250. Altho the fairly ne.17 calibers might be a good option also.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2007 at 11:23PM
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English sparrows and Euro starlings arent native species either and they do great harm to the native bird populations. Should we declare open season on them too?

    Bookmark   November 19, 2007 at 8:54AM
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There already is an open season on them, they are not protected species.

I do shoot some of the starlings as they can quickly over run an area. Many use bird traps for the sparrows and starlings. Those starlings do eat a lot of bugs tho so they do some good.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2007 at 1:16PM
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If this cat was feral (and it sounds like it was), I do not have a problem with the man shooting it. For a domestic animal, being feral is not a plesant way of life. Starvation, injury from other animals, getting hit by cars, etc are all hazards these animals face. Trapping them and taking them to the pound for euthanasia is a terrifying experience for them. It is more humane for them to die a quick death from a bullet than suffer the terror of being trapped and transported. Feral animals are very damaging to native wildlife and should not be permitted to live under bridges or wherever else they are dumped.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2007 at 2:10PM
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Should this guy have had the book thrown at **him**??

To Sybil,

Lamentably, I killed your cat while trying just to sting it. It was crouched, as usual, under one of our bird feeders & I fired from some distance with bird shot. It may ease your grief somewhat to know that the cat was buried properly with a prayer & that Ill be glad to get you another of your choice.

I called & came by your house several times. We will be in the Dominican Republic until Thursday. IÂll see you then.

Love, Jimmy

    Bookmark   November 19, 2007 at 9:57PM
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So then the cat WAS killed on his property? The article (to me,and yes I was tired when I read it) didnt make it sound as if it was done at his house.

Unfortunately though,this guy completely admits it was her pet.So that opens up a whole nother can of worms.

Is it ok to shoot someone's dog or cat if it is in your yard? How would you feel if someone shot your dog or cat?
I mention dogs because it sounds as though many of you do not like cats.So imagine it was your dog.

Nice of him to apologize.If it was my cat,not so sure I'd so willing to forgive.Although I do have to say my cat wouldnt have been outside unattended.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2007 at 2:29AM
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But keep in mind if it was a dog, the dog would be impounded the owner fined. Cats are allowed to roam, allowed to go unlicensed, unspayed, unneutered.
The laws for dog owners are far stricter. Cats roaming is the problem, how often do you hear about feral dogs? Feral cats are VERY dangerous as well. They are often very vicious, and if and one decides your home is where it wants to reside, or defecate, or have its litters, there is nothing you can do but put up with it.
If you have bird feeders you either have to remove them, or deal with decapitated birds on a regular basis. Tell me why am I not allowed control over my own property?? Yet I am expected to put up with someones else uncontrolled property...pets are property.

If you love your pet you do not let it roam, where it can cause havoc or get injured!!! My dog does not leave the yard it is not allowed to defecate and urinate in everyone else yard, it does not hang out a a neighbors bird feeder waiting to kill, let alone, spread it's seed from hear to eternity!

Just my few cents!

    Bookmark   November 20, 2007 at 2:28PM
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Ok,but what if your dog escaped? Or someone left the door open and the dog wandered away?
Then,instead of your neighbor,who knew it was yours, not trying to bring it home or let you know where it was,just shot the dog?
I completely agree with you though that cats should not be allowed to roam like that.My cat is strictly indoors and much safer and healthier because of that.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2007 at 2:55AM
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It is different when an animal is allowed to roam, when it lives outside, but not on your property, lives wherever it chooses. If my dog was continually in some one's yard, getting out often, and ruining peoples yards and killing wildlife, if someone shot it...they would have the right. Would I like it, no, would I understand why no...because if I was the kind of person who let my animals roam at will, then I probably would not have the mental capacity to understand that I need take responsibility for my property, my pet.
Again, an escaped animal is far different than an animal who is allowed to wander and destroy.
If a dog escapes and is in a neighbor's yard the neighbor can call/get you, or call the humane society, if a cat is in your yard, you can do little, you call the neighbor and they tell you they can't control where their cat goes, you call the humane society, they say you have to rent or buy a cat trap then you have to pay for is NOT the same thing.
The laws should be the same for dogs and cats. The reason they are not, I am not sure.
The fact is there are over 100 million feral cats in the US alone. It is out of control, they are out of control and are truly affecting wildlife.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2007 at 9:19PM
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So any updates on this case?

    Bookmark   November 22, 2007 at 1:13PM
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The case was declared a mistrial due to a hung jury. He won't be re-tried. Below is a link to a story. Apparently the accused has received death threats. That info is in a different story.

    Bookmark   November 23, 2007 at 10:58PM
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The issue here is feral cats - Why are there feral cats? Where do they come from? Hmmm....could it be some PERSON at some point ababdoned their cat? THIS is the problem.

Yes, cats kill birds. Personally, I think cats live healthier lives kept indoors. Maybe there should be stricter laws regarding pet ownership. Just like dogs have to be liscenced, here is what I think may help with the feral cat problem-

ALL animals should be liscensed and microchipped. It should be a law that cats cannot "free roam" If a cat is found "free roaming" the micro chip will enable the owners to be tracked down and given a warning the first time - after all, cats are crafty escape artists...kitty could have gotten out unnoticed. After the first warning, start taking money out of people's pockets. If a cat is abandoned, it can also be traced back to the owner. THe only way to "acceptably" abandon your pet should be to a shelter.

Yes, policing all this will cost money. But it may make people stop and think before an impulsive decision to get a pet. And, the current cost to round up the crazy amount of strays out there, to have them rehomed or euthanized, and the cost to the local wildlife, is probably much higher.

Pet owners should be made responsible for the pet that they wanted. Getting a pet should not be a lightly made decision.
The unwanted animals in our society today - both on the streets, in shelters, or tied to a chain and ignored in your backyard, is a disgrace, we should be ashamed of ourselves.

    Bookmark   November 25, 2007 at 9:33AM
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It has been estimated (I forgot where I read this) that 1 million birds per year are killed by cats. I watch my neighbor's cat out in the woods all the time in the spring stalking the baby birds. Sometimes, they even sit under the feeders!!!!

If society was smart, and concerned about losing the diversity of songbirds, there would be restrictions on cats prowling around, just like they do dogs. But cats don't threaten people like dogs do--I guess that's the justification. As is always the case--there is no such thing as a bad pet,no matter what it is. There are only bad people who own these pets. Any pet left to prowl is no longer a pet--it becomes a pest.

    Bookmark   November 25, 2007 at 11:42AM
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Here's an article detailing the damage feral cats do in Florida. The problems they present remind me of invasive species wreaking havoc in the Great Lakes.

    Bookmark   November 25, 2007 at 1:21PM
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And how much environmental damage is caused by developers?? Talk about invasive species!!

    Bookmark   November 25, 2007 at 3:37PM
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I don't think the bridge owner owned the cat. Anyone can put food out for a stray, it doesn't mean they own it. Did the cat live in the bridge worker's home? Obviously not or it wouldn't have been in that situation. Killing the cat does seem extreme... Cats eat birds, it's what they do. Part of the cycle of life. The cat could have been taken to a shelter.

Livvysmom, I agree about birds. Their droppings are a mess and many of them make such an awful racket it should be used as an interrogation tactic.

    Bookmark   November 25, 2007 at 3:43PM
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I can completely understand both sides.

It's a bit of a touchy subject. Some of you can say throw the book at him, but what about the fact that he was thinking of wildlife, cats are not natural predators in many countries & do so much destruction.

i can see the other side too. this man should not have taken matters into his own hands, no matter what was going on or the cat laws in the area. That was a bit foolish.

As for being a pet. The cats owner should've been made aware of what the cat was doing & left to the owner to take action. If this wasn't happening, then he should've gone to the council to have the cat trapped & removed.

Where I am it is illegal to kill or trap any cat. Our wild life is protected but we can't take things into our own hands either. If this were the case here we would contact the council or calm. they would trap the cat & remove it. If the cat had no identification on it, it would be destroyed. If they found an owner the owner would either have a hefty fine on his hands or would have a warning & kept a very close eye on.

I am a parrot & cat owner. I like to know where my cat is at all times. She's always been within calling distance from our home & never allowed outside after dinner. She has on occasion caught a dove & been scolded for this but she's a cat. They have that instinct you just can't remove.... It's simply up to the owners of cats to be more responsible when owning a cat. No matter what the circumstances are, you shouldn't really take matters into your hands, it gets you in the s**t.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2008 at 3:04AM
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Just because some dude was throwing kibble under a bridge doesn't make him a cat owner. Cats are not native to this place and are decimating the song bird population, so I applaud the frustrated ornithologist.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2008 at 9:34AM
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Why American Songbirds Have Vanished

Although songbird populations are declining, other birds such as blackbirds and greenfinches, blue jays and brown-headed cowbirds (both nestling-eating predators) are exploding. Year-round U.S. bird residents are stable or increasing in numbers, indicating the need for serious consideration and urgent attention to reasons why songbirds are in decline. Blaming cats for songbird decline is a facile and simplistic solution to a complex problem.
Professor John Terborgh of Duke University reports in the May 1992 issue of Scientific American that little can be done about restoring songbirds in rural and suburban areas and conservation efforts should be directed towards consolidating and expanding large tracts of forest, such as the Smokies and Adirondacks, to maximize habitat for nesting birds. Another suggestion is for farmers to practice fallowing their fields every two to three years. He also mentions the damage done by clear-cutting national forests and overgrazing federal lands.
More than 250 species of song birds migrate south of U.S. borders. Tropical deforestation is occurring at the rate of 142,000 to 200,000 square kilometers each year, an area roughly the size of Florida. At this rate the world's remaining tropical forests will be depleted by 2030 and many species of songbirds will disappear along with them.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2008 at 2:11PM
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...and how anyone can applaud the actions of this cruel moron is beyond me. Too bad there was a mistrial, but hopefully Karma will catch up with him in other ways.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2008 at 2:15PM
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English sparrows and Euro starlings aren't native species either and they do great harm to the native bird populations. Should we declare open season on them too?

It IS open season on those birds, its totally legal to kill either of those species at any time.

In certain areas of Texas you can kill cowbirds and turn them in for a cash reward per bird.

Habitat destruction is the primary cause for the extinction of birds. So its even more critical that the remaining habitat's that do exist, are free from non-native predators. When prey and predators evolve together they form adaptations to equalize their populations. Small Cats didn't evolve in North America, so the birds don't have natural defenses against them.

Though I think the bird watcher should have trapped the cat, rather than shooting it...

    Bookmark   February 4, 2008 at 11:47AM
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I agree that since humans are responsible for habitat destruction, they need to remedy the situation. But killing cats and other predators is not the answer. Spay and neuter programs need to be enforced, and people need to be more willing to keep their cats indoors instead of letting them roam at will. There are roaming dog laws, there need to be roaming cat laws. Or at least existing laws need to be enforced. And not just for the protection of wildlife, for the protection of cats as well.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2008 at 7:06PM
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Like Kasum, I can relate to both sides. I own a beloved cat and I have chickens and guineas. When we first brought home a dozen half-grown guineas, my cat killed several of them, but they quickly outgrew her and started attacking her whenever she came near. Needless to say, she quickly became a peaceful cat who can now sit within a foot of a young chick and completely ignore the bird.

On the other hand, one of my neighbors moved and abandoned a half-wild cat they had been feeding. It went completely fetal and began eating my chickens. I tried to tame it, hoping its habit could be changed, but alas this cat refused to trust any human again. When over half my flock had been eaten, I finally mentioned the problem to a neighbor who is also a hunter. He shot the cat and my chicken population quickly rebounded.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2008 at 11:54AM
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anyone who thinks it is just okay for cats to just kill birds because they are a 'nuisance' and poop and sing and annoy them needs to be educated and are a tad ignorant to the subject. fyi, birds were there first. and also, birds are very beneficial to the environment. and i'm talking native birds, not so much hosps and starlings... (but that's for another day) many birds are loosing habitat to urbanization and logging and such, and they need areas to live. i apologize if they inconvience you so, but IMO, so do cats leaving scat in gardens and peeing acidically in grass. cats, however, do not pose much of a benefit to the environment, and kill many birds for no benefit (just to kill, basically.) it is their instinct, and i am aware of that. i don't really think i can find total fault with this person.
i don't think he did it because he likes it.
i don't think he is obsessive.
he is a man who is passionate about birds and i'm sure some of you get bent out of shape when a groundhog nibbles on your vegetables or a mole tears up a part of your yard.
cats are a rising threat to native birds.

this 'owner' really needs to think. feeding the cat should not make it his. how many other people fed that stray cat besides him?
if he brought it to the vet, had it sterilized, and took it home, then yeah. it was his, but putting out a little sprinkle of food should not constitute ownership.

granted, this man could have done other things to deter the cat. he should have trapped it and brought it to a shelter. or contacted the 'owner.'

don't get me wrong, i adore my two indoor cats. my life would be different without them. i am also an avid birder and birdfeeder/photographer. (more of a novice photographer ;) )

bottom line.

keep your cat indoors. recognize the importance of NATIVE birds. don't just shoot random cats. be civil.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2008 at 8:45PM
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Right on, Abbybirds. I wish I could put your whole post on a t-shirt.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2008 at 2:01PM
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Maybe it is my technical training but in this topic and so many others what I notice first is a failure to look at the big picture. A few observations:

Many posters have said that the cat should have been trapped and turned over to an animal shelter. Lets get one thing straight. This already happens with countless cats, who frequently get euthanized because no one claims or adopts them. Yes there is a system in place to capture and place stray cats but like every other system devised by man it has its limits and unfortunately due to the fecundity of cats and the irresponsibility of many so called pet owners there are more cats than can be dealt with. The existence of shelters does not mean the cats won't die. The only thing that has any realistic hope of ensuring the safety of a domestic cat in the US is a comitted and competent owner who shelters and feeds the cat, provides medical care including spaying or neutering, and doesn't ever let the cat roam outside or reproduce at will. Consistancy is important. Logic doesn't work without it. If animal shelters could handle the feral cat population then there would be no argument for Trap, Neuter, and Release (TNR) programs that maintain feral cat colonies. The hypothesis is that if you removed the existing feral cats they would only be replaced by other feral cats moving in so it is better to maintain sterile cats in these available urban niches. The logic of this is totally lost on me because if there are other feral cats out there in the shadows, then THEY are starving and pushed around by the comparatively well fed and healthy TNR colony cats. If on the other hand there aren't that many feral cats out there on the fringes then it would be better to trap them, find homes for all that you can, and do what needs to be done with the rest. As for the fools who suggest "relocating" cats, you mean dumping them on someone else? Where they have to violently reestablish their place in the pecking order all over again, in an environment that all groups agree is overcrouded? Would any of us like to be "relocated"? Perhaps to some of the more colorful areas of LA, NY City, Detroit? Who thinks it would be any better for a cat? The people on the front lines know there aren't enough beds in the shelters. As much as I think the TNR programs are dodging the issue, I don't think they are making things worse as long as they do what they claim, sterilize the cats and feed them. Feeding them makes them somewhat less likely to hunt and makes them able to out compete the non-sterile cats. Not what cat lovers would like to hear, I'm sure.

People should obey gun laws. Did this guy break any gun laws? Probably. It is hard to shoot a gun these days without breaking a law. Was he 500 feet from the nearest road? No. His target was under a road. Prosecute him for that.

Did he break any wildlife laws? One post said it was legal to shoot cats at that time. Don't prosecute him for that.

The guard claimed ownership of the cat, which was completely outside of his control. The moment the guard claimed ownership he should have been nailed for cruelty to animals, letting his cat live like that, and for property damage done by the feral cats in that area including his cat. I say his cat although that is a joke, but he claims it is true. Personally I don't see any difference between cats and rats. My brother's kids have some pet rats and they are sweet little things, totally unlike wild rats. Same with cats. This unfortunately is almost entirely a battle for hearts and minds without any logic to it. If cat lovers really want to secure the high ground they should be the ones insisting that that guard be prosecuted.

People are the greatest invasive species, depending on your point of view. I personally want to have adequate food, water, shelter, safety, etc. If any other organism threatens to interfere with that it is in my opinion a pest. Here's where it gets complicated. According to this definition most of the "pests" in the world are other people. I can not justify defining other people as pests. If you want to be consistant and logical you just can't call people pests, in the grand scheme of things. Sure, it would be a load off of the world if half the population died. Who? Half my family, determined by lottery? Or perhaps we could decide by skin color or religion, like the Nazis did? You see where I am going. Don't waste any time talkng about how people are the problem, even though they are. There is nowhere useful to go with this argument. Now that that is off the table, understand that while habitat preservation is desireable, it is linked to population. Personally I think we ultimately need to talk about population but not in a polite forum like this. That belongs in a knock down drag out forum on doomsday scenarios, which this isn't. If we go there we would be talking about poisoning feral animals wholesale like we do rats.

I have read alot about the pressure that feral cats put on bird populations. I think that it may be true that they prey more on rodents than birds because rodents can't fly and are easier prey. I imagine that some birds are much more vulnerable than others. To do this right we would have to evaluate each prey species individually. I'll bet that the seabirds that the ornithologist was allegedly protecting are among the more vulnerable species.

My take is that I can see why a sane person would do what this ornithologist did. He had a vested interest in the welfare of these particular birds just as a farmer does in his livestock He would have understood the particular threat that feral cats would pose to a threatened population. He would understand population dynamics. He would have seen that the population of feral cats was doomed to remain at dangerously high levels due to the inability of society to come to grips with the problem, as is shown by how many posters naiively propose ineffective alternatives even as overwhelmed local health authorities throw up their hands and cave in to assorted cat fanatics who were feeding the cats anyway. Prosecute the guy for any gun violations if you must, but to do any more is fiddling while Rome burns.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2008 at 6:17AM
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Mark, I agree with 99% of what you said. The only thing that I disagree about is the gun laws. I don't know what laws he had to deal with, but in IL (one of the most restrictive gun states) all you have to be is off the road. You also can't load the gun until you are off the road. I do not know, however, about the legality of shooting under a bridge.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2008 at 1:42AM
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