Crackdown on Feral Cat Colony

Neighbors spur state to move against Dumpster home at Montauk Downs
Elizabeth Willoughby is trying to find homes for a colony of cats before they are taken by park officials to a shelter or euthanized, depending on their health. Janis Hewitt

    A colony of feral cats at the Montauk Downs State Park is being disbanded by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation. The cats, some of which have been there for up to eight years, are being taken to the Animal Rescue Fund of the Hamptons for evaluation. Some are being placed elsewhere, and others might have to be euthanized, depending on their health.
    Cared for by Elizabeth Willoughby since 2002, the cat colony has thrived on the site for more than 15 years, and all of them have been spayed or neutered. Ms. Willoughby said that in the time she has been caring for the cats, no kittens have been born and the colony has been reduced from 37 to about 20. Since state park officials began trapping the cats, Ms. Willoughby has been able to place 9 of them with new owners.
    The others still consider the space behind the park’s Dumpster their home, however. When a visitor arrives, felines will coyly start rubbing up against their hay-lined shelters and congregating around the food dish. They are black, gray, orange, and calico. They look to be healthy, with good coats and seemingly hearty appetites. A chorus of purring begins when Ms. Willoughby sits among them.
    Ron Foley, the Long Island regional director of the State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation, said the state is removing the cats because of neighbors’ complaints. “They’re saying, ‘Your cats are fouling our yards,’ ” he said. Neighbors have also complained that the cats are killing songbirds.
    Mr. Foley said the state’s policy on feral cats is to reduce the population to none. “Through no fault of anyone, that’s not happened in Montauk.” He said a former park employee who took some of the cats to his house became ill, and the cats were returned to the park by a neighbor.
    A letter sent out from Mr. Foley’s office to cat rescuers in Montauk called abandoned cats on state parkland a continuing problem. “If these cats have not been relocated in 60 days from the date of this letter, they will either be brought to a humane shelter or humanely euthanized,” the letter said.
    Mike Caggiano of Nuisance Wildlife Control in Ridge said he has so far trapped 16 cats at the park. He baits traps in the late afternoon and then waits, he said. He often has to remove a raccoon from a trap before he catches a cat, which is then taken to ARF in Wainscott.
    There they are medically evaluated, Sara Davison, the group’s executive director, said. So far, two have had to be put down because of their age. “It was an opportunity to give them a humane send-off,” she said. The others are feral and will live only outside. “We’re looking for someone with a barn or a backyard, or someone who already feeds feral cats, to take them,” she said.
    Ms. Willoughby is also trying to place the cats. She said they are good mousers and ratters. Operation Cat at ARF will supply some food to those who adopt. Anyone interested can e-mail her at ewillownyc@aol.com.
    “Feral cats are a community concern, they are not a problem,” Ms. Willoughby said. “The problem is with the people who dump cats when they don’t want them anymore.”


Comments

Cats listed in THE TOP 100 WORST INVASIVE-SPECIES OF THE WORLD in the "Global Invasive-Species Database": http://www.issg.org/database/species/ecology.asp?si=24&fr=1&sts=sss Cats are _NOT_ exempt from invasive-species laws. IT IS YOUR CIVIC AND MORAL RESPONSIBILITY TO DESTROY ANY INVASIVE-SPECIES WHEN FOUND AWAY FROM SAFE CONFINEMENT AND OUT IN A NON-NATIVE HABITAT. In fact, it is against the law to NOT destroy an invasive-species on-sight. Since cats are genetically engineered through selective-breeding and no longer have ANY native habitat ANYWHERE on earth, these laws include cats. For example: it is highly illegal for a person to transport an African Cichlid fish species to just the other side the road if you catch one in the canals of the Everglades while fishing. THEY MUST BE DESTROYED ON-SIGHT. Yet Cichlids are often kept as pets, that's how they wrongly got into the canals to begin with. There are hefty fines in place for anyone caught transporting these invasive-species alive if caught in the wild. All of this much to the dismay of criminally irresponsible and psychotic cat-lovers who are desperately trying to raise these invasive-species cats to some absurd level of "Community Cats". If they do that then I'll just raise "Community Pet Piranha" and release them in all your lakes and pools, or "Community Pet Black-Mambas" and release them in all your backyards and parks, then claim the exact same protections for them as cat-advocates want for their invasive-species cats. It’d only be fair! (Are you starting to see just how absurd and ludicrous these cat-advocates are yet?)
Good on her- these cats didn't ask to be born. Humans have created the problem by not neutering thus we have a responsibility to find a humane solution. Cats as pets have numerous benefits
Absolutely! Feral cats are the results of PEOPLE PROBLEMS!!!! the cats shouldnt take the brunt of human cruelty. but people who let this happen should be punished. Cruelty starts with people , not animals. I applaud them for what they are doing.