December 13, 2009

Cats in court

Francisco de Goya y Lucientes: Don Manuel Osorio Manrique de Zuñiga, 1788. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

Talk about a controversial story with next-to-zero coverage in the local news: a Los Angeles Superior Court judge "has banned Los Angeles animal shelters from encouraging feral cat colonies pending an environmental review."

The Urban Wildlands Group, Endangered Habitats League, Los Angeles Audubon Society, Palos Verdes/South Bay Audubon Society, Santa Monica Bay Audubon Society, and the American Bird Conservancy were plaintiffs in the lawsuit against the City of Los Angeles and the L.A. Department of Animal Services. Here is the ABC's statement on the ruling. Excerpt:
A superior court judge has ruled in favor of a coalition of conservation groups, including American Bird Conservancy (ABC), to halt the controversial practice of Trap, Neuter, and Release (TNR) of feral cats in the City of Los Angeles, pending environmental review.

The court determined that the City and its Department of Animal Services had been “secretly and unofficially” promoting the practice of releasing feral cats to roam free in the city after they have been trapped and neutered or spayed, even though they were obliged by law to first conduct a review of the program under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).
Despite denials by the City that an official TNR program existed, the judge ruled that “implementation of the program is pervasive, albeit informal and unspoken,” and ordered them to halt their actions and complete the necessary environmental reviews.

In June 2005, the Los Angeles Board of Animal Services Commissioners adopted TNR as the “preferred method of dealing with feral cat populations.” Under the CEQA, an analysis of the impacts of the program on the environment should have been completed, but never was. Yet the Department went forward in supporting TNR operations, including discounting spay/neuter operations for TNR cats, helping establish new TNR colonies on city property, and helping promote TNR programs, while refusing to accept feral cats at city animal shelters or issue permits to trap feral cats that were not going to be subsequently released.

The City must now implement the CEQA process, which includes full scientific review, assessment of alternatives, and potential mitigation measures. The public will have the opportunity to engage in the process and ensure an open, science-based approach to the issue of free-roaming cats in Los Angeles.
And speaking of science, this article from the September-October issue of Audubon is a must-read. [Related blog discussion here.] Also check out Critical Assessment of Claims Regarding Management of Feral Cats by Trap–Neuter–Return [pdf].

Birds 1, Feral Cats 0 -- Court Orders LA To Stop Controversial Feral Cat Program

Liveblogging No More Homeless Pets Conference: Opening

Liveblogging No More Homeless Pets: What’s new in feral cats?
[Honestly, when I hear someone say, "Don’t give them a chance to argue with you. There’s only one solution, and that’s to let the cats live; proceed from there," I ask myself, Did I miss that election? The one that made feral cat colonies more important than wild birds, sea mammals, the environment, public health...? Because that position is insane, and I like cats.]

Here are three posts from Ed Muzika's L.A. Animal Watch:

Urban Wildlife Wins Lawsuit Against City; TNR illegal Until CEQA Done

Longcore Refuses to Respond to My Charge That His Call for Cat Sanctuary Is a Cynical Cover For His Death Recommendations

Longcore Attacks Every Measure on Proposed Beverly Hills TNR Ordinance--A Sample

And an oldie from the NY Times: Kill the Cat that Kills the Bird?


Paula G from Indiana said...

I'm not clear on what the birders want. Doesnt TNR lower numbers of cats on the loose? If there is no TNR won't the cats rampantly reproduce?

Luisa said...

Paula, here's a [pdf] link: American Bird Conservancy's Resolution on Free-Roaming Cats. The ABC "calls for all cats to be kept indoors or under close supervision and the humane removal of all free-roaming cats beginning with areas important to wildlife."

Here's info on a good TNR program in California: Project Bay Cat Succeeds with Humane Feral Cat Management Program. Project Bay Cat manager Cimeron Morrissey is quoted here: "All of us would love the day when there are zero feral cats throughout the US. Population shrink over time. But yes, to zero. And it is possible."

Bill Fosher said...

The immediate problem I see with TNR starts with the T part. You are removing the stupid (sorry, less intellectually gifted) from the reproductive population. No matter how yummy the treat, the smart cats are going to learn what a havahart looks like and they will stay right the hell away, while the Bubbas and Blondies walk right in. Unless you can guarantee 100 percent capture of a population -- or at least 100 percent capture of one sex or the other -- TNR is doomed to fail.

Sounds harsh, but .22 long rifle cartridges cost 3 cents a piece.

YesBiscuit! said...

Related story from my morning reading:,3_1_EL14_06CATS_S1-091214.article

EmilyS said...

"Did I miss that election? The one that made feral cat colonies more important than wild birds, sea mammals, the environment, public health..."

yes, you did. The cat people don't believe you should have a vote in this. Feral/stray/owned and wandering cats also have an unrestricted right to all of the above, and also to use your property in any manner they choose. You have no recourse, except expensive fencing.

It's not even possible to have this discussion

Anonymous said...

For the Press Release and other information visit here.

Anonymous said...

Humans are ther reason for the feral cat population. Its not their fault they were disposed of un-neutered and unspayed.Most people do not let their felines out to roam. It is too dangerous. Too many cars. Too many people who think its Ok to poison them. At least where I reside. You eat meat don't you? People hunt deer and even birds when they can easily go to the grocery store. I can't remember the last time I saw a homeless cat in the checkout line at a grocery store. Survival of the fittest. And its not their fault. It's the irresponsible pet owners. Give me a break people.

Chef John said...

Birds tatse good---!