To the editor:
East Bay Regional Park District is close to adopting a cruel, pointless cat-killing policy that would put it completely out of step with the wishes of its residents.
After a series of local media reports and investigations last fall revealed a decades-long pattern in which the East Bay Parks was shooting and killing cats, the EBRPD Board indicated that it would review the Parks’ actions. It is now ready to vote on the new policy. Unfortunately, the Parks’ new proposal is just like the old one in that it still calls for killing cats with guns.
This approach is resoundingly unfavorable with the public. Results from a new poll show that 78 percent of people in the East Bay view hunting and shooting of free-roaming cats with guns as unacceptable in their communities. Furthermore, over 80 percent of respondents are concerned that government agents shooting cats in East Bay Parks could harm or scare people and other animals. (The survey, by Oakland firm FM3, included 600 registered voters in Alameda and Contra Costa counties in early May and had a margin of error of +4%.)
Not only is the public vehemently opposed to East Bay Parks shooting cats in local parks, but lethal cat control doesn’t work. While killing may briefly reduce the number of cats, the population soon rebounds as other cats move in to fill the space freed by the temporary reduction. This phenomenon is known as the Vacuum Effect and it has been documented in studies of cats, coyotes, and other mammals.
Even worse, cat hunts often fail to go according to plan, leaving maimed and wounded cat survivors with broken bones, missing eyes and a life of tremendous suffering. There is no such thing as a “humane shooting” of a free-roaming cat.
Parks should not be in the business of killing cats. There are plenty of humane, lifesaving approaches that should be used instead to ensure threatened and endangered wildlife are protected.
It is time for East Bay Parks to fully move beyond the Wild West notion that killing has any part to play in conservation. The moral costs it carries are far too high, and it does not work.
Becky Robinson/ Founder/ Alley Cat Allies