San Nicolas Island Cat-Eradication Plan Under Review

Public input about feral cat population to be reviewed before final assessment.

By Soraya Gutierrez | Posted: July 10, 2008 2 a.m. EDT

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San Nicolas Island Cat-Eradication Plan Under Review
Public outcry over a plan to eradicate feral cats urges a more humane way to protect wildlife.

The outcry over a plan by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to eradicate feral cats from San Nicolas Island urges a more humane way to reduce the feral cats’ impact on native wildlife.

The proposal set forth in an environmental assessment,  however, details humane practices for trapping and killing the island’s cat population, said Jane Hendron, spokeswoman for the FWS office in Carlsbad, Calif.

“We did recognize that this would be controversial,” Hendron said.

The 100 to 200 feral cats that are estimated to be living on the Navy-owned land would be shot or given a lethal injection on the spot, according to the plan. Primary methods of trapping the cats include hunting with specialized dogs and using padded leg traps.

“Shooting is in fact considered a humane option in these circumstances,” Hendron said in a phone interview.

Hunting dogs would be used by barking at the cats and driving them into a hole or up a tree. A hunter would then shoot the cat when a clear, fatal shot can be delivered, the report states.

Animal welfare groups are against the plan. Other methods for capturing the feral cats, including trap-neuter-return (TNR), are considered more humane by groups such as Alley Cat Allies.

Wendy Anderson said in a statement submitted by Alley Cat Allies that the proposed cat eradication failed to adequately consider TNR, which she said is the most effective method to accomplish reductions in feline population.  

TNR, however, is not an option on San Nicolas Island because Navy policy prohibits the practice on its property in order to protect native wildlife species. “That is a national policy,” Hendron said.

The option of eliminating the felines is a step forward in restoring the natural balance of San Nicolas Island, she said. These cats are highly aggressive, she added, and virtually unadoptable because they are untamed.

The public comment period for this plan has ended and the next step is to review the recommendations that were submitted and prepare a final environmental assessment.

Click here to read more CatChannel coverage of the situation on San Nicolas Island.

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Reader Comments

Ivonne    Miami, FL

7/8/2009 8:43:12 PM

That has to be the dumbest thing I have ever heard---cats are gentle animals. Get rid of the wild dogs instead. Cats help, what is the point, aren't you suppose to be preserving wild life? Are you going to get rid of the cats like the Ghalat-as people longed extinct? The elderly and children need cats--bring some emotional stability.If you were here in Miami, you would be serving a prison term for killing cats! Save them!

Victoria    Sayreville, NJ

3/25/2009 6:44:44 PM

Thats messed up. How could someone ever just kill a cat like that. I dotncare if its for the balance of that place. Animals are Animals and they ALL deserve a chance. And yet they are keeping dogs!!

Meghan    Milton, VT

1/25/2009 6:47:32 AM

THAT IS WRONG!!!! You don't have to kill them to get your way!
I think the TNR (trap-neutur-return) will work. They could also capture some of the cats (in a humane way) and put them up for adoption. Feral cats can be turned into domesticated felines. There doesn't have to be killing. They (the fish and wildlife people) are just so pig-headed. Capture them, spay/neutur them, and then you can send them to me. I would show them love and compastion and make them domesticated. Here's my email so we could make plans;

Nicole    Sheboygan, WI

10/8/2008 6:03:10 PM

Yeah, that's humane. Shooting a cat while it's defenseless in a tree or giving it a lethal injection. Just TNR. It's safer and it's better that way. They aren't hurting anyone so why kill them? In fact why not remove them from the island itself and send them to shelters where they can be adopted.

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