Mountain View Voice
Opinion - April 11, 2014
Council holds off on Shoreline cat ban
A cat's instinctual urge to chase and kill birds has been with the breed since time immemorial, handed down from their predatory ancestors, like the lion and wildcat.
But the question before the City Council last week was what impact neutering has on the instincts of feral and other cats that roam around the fields at Shoreline, near the nests of the city's cherished burrowing owls, an endangered species that could be threatened by an influx of felines. In the end, the council punted the most controversial clause of a new animal control ordinance out of contention, which would have banned feeding and releasing stray cats north of Highway 101.
After dropping that provision, members voted to pass the bulk of new rules governing pets without a problem. A few months ago, the first effort to pass the animal control measure was shouted down by an onslaught of cat owners who strongly objected to a cat licensing provision. The idea was dropped in the new ordinance, and now only dogs will require a license.
But the last word on whether to neuter feral cats at Shoreline or trap and move them to an uncertain fate at the Animal Shelter still awaits the findings of city staff, who have been asked by the council to assemble a "stakeholder group" to find an acceptable way to manage feral cats, and to determine the numbers and locations of feral cats in the city.
At last week's meeting, groups favoring a TNR (trap, neuter and release) program for feral cats at Shoreline claimed neutered felines would not be a threat to birds, and that if the city embarked on a campaign to remove all cats from the Shoreline area, other cats would simply move in to fill the vacuum. None of these arguments hold water for the Audubon Society, which, according to Mike Kasperzak, strongly lobbied the council to "come down hard" on stray cats. Audubon members claim the "trap, neuter and release" program without euthanasia allows cats to be a major threat to young birds, representatives told the council.
Bird-hunting is instinctive for cats, Audubon Society members said, adding that stray cats should be trapped and removed from the North Bayshore area.
It was no surprise that the council did not know who to believe, and in the end decided to send a "stakeholder group" including bird advocates and cat rescuers, on a hunt for more information. Time will tell if the group is productive or becomes mired in conflict.
There are some points to be made for the "trap, neuter and release"
• City records show that in recent years only two endangered burrowing owls have been killed by predators, although there is no record if the predators were cats, hawks or other raptors.
• Cat rescue groups, including the city's own contractor, Silicon Valley Animal Control Authority, as well as the Palo Alto Humane Society, supported the effectiveness of the "trap, neuter and release" method in reducing the stray cat population in the North Bayshore.
•If cats are trapped and disappear, cat rescue groups say, territorial instincts will attract others to take over in a "vacuum effect."
• Just as adamantly, the Audubon Society believes there are dozens of stray cats that go into creek corridors and Shoreline Park and prey on the "...most vulnerable, the nestlings, the fledglings."
Is there a right or wrong answer to this fight over the safety of endangered birds at Shoreline? Is there a middle ground? Will city staff and the stakeholder group be able to mediate this dispute? No matter whether it favors birds or cats, the other side is certain to be outraged and protest to the council.
Whatever happens, the city should make sure the endangered birds are protected, and the outdoor cat population is neutered, so it will not blossom into an unmanageable herd. Everyone loves cats, but unspayed and in the wild, they are hunters and their prey is often birds.
Posted by 25% reduction acheived already,
a resident of another community
on Apr 17, 2014 at 1:37 pm
25% reduction acheived already is a registered user.
The proof that TNR works is in the Santa Clara County and other local shelter statistics.
25% fewer stray cats and kittens have been brought into to our local shelter over the last few years, due to high-volume TNR effort, which slows the breeding and reduce the number of litters of kittens born each year.
After the 25% initiial reduction, the shelters are continuing to see a continued 5 to 8% reduction in cats entering shelters each subsequent year.
These trends show that trapping & fixing all out door cats (tame or feral), encouraging residents to spay/neuter their owned pets and all and any they feed, and encouraging folks when they adopt cats to keep them indoor only, IS working. These combined techniques are working. And they are working very well.
Public education is the key here. The city of Mt. View should promote responsibile pet ownership, and promote and encourage Spay/Neutering of all pets (either owned, or those allowed to roam outside) and encourage people to adopt from local shelter (which take in and rehome outdoor cats).
Outreach and continued education to the public is the key.
By getting more people to spay their own pets (whether they be indoor/outdoor, or both), and to tnr ANY and ALL cats they feed outdoors, we have already been successful and have lowered the number of cats and kittens taken to local shelter by 25% over the last 3 years ! Now , that is progress ! And that SAVES the city and taxpayers money.
So, let what is working in Mt. View, keep working !!
If we keep going at a 8 to 10% continued reduction rate, as has been demonstated in the local shelter statistics, we will actually be able to acheive what bird-lover and cat-lovers alike are BOTH striving forů.FEWER free-roaming cats !
We are almost there folks, so encourage residents to keep working TOGETHER, and not get side-tracked by "special interest group" nonsense and radical threats and behavior (such as that demontrated so nicely by "TNR Researcher"), and continue to work together, as community residents, to continue on the path that HAS been working.
Let your trusted animal shelter do the good work they have been doing, and pretty soon any so-called problems will get resolved. They are using best practices and are innovative and proactively responding to residents and are doing a great job ! Let them continue, without distraction, from national lobbyist. Local residents know what they want. Are are getting great service.
If it ain't broke council, then don't fix it, right?
We put too much energy into producing and listening to all the opposing views, when in reality bird-folk (who love all animals) and cat-folk (who love all wildlife) really are ON the SAME SIDE, we both want FEWER free-roaming cats, and those out there to finds homes !
So, let's stop the silly back and forth fighting,(and dangerous, scary talk about harming cats, and people...ahem, TNR Reseacher)and work on this together, to identify hot spots, so we can practively address any issue that surface, and so that we can get to where we want to be, which is to arrive in a place where all species of animals are protected and treated humanely.
The proof is in the stats. And the local stats are showing strong, positive trends. So, lets focus on that and keep doing what is ALREADY working for the city (instead of counting cats! How silly) and save the tax dollars, to do other more important things for the city, like to address jobs, housing, urban sprawl, cutting of trees, and loss of wildlife habitat.
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