You didn’t actually think we’d get through this story without a headline pun did you?
The National Park Service (NPS) has agreed to give more time to cat enthusiasts to remove a sizable colony of feral cats from the Plumb Beach federal parkland, and is even considering offering manpower and assistance in their relocation.
Doug Adamo, the chief of Natural Resource Management for Gateway National Recreation Area told Sheepshead Bites that he’s been inundated with calls and e-mails about the 25-cat colony they planned to remove this Friday, with nearly as many people supporting the plan as opposing it.
But they also heard directly from the folks who’ve been caring for the cats, building what he called “cat condos that were constructed out of wood and cardboard,” and who fed, vaccinated and neutered them. As a result of their discussions, Adamo said Parks has agreed to hold off on dismantling the colony for another week, until June 20, to allow the group to explore long-term relocation options.
“Nothing’s going to happen on Friday. We did get in touch with the people that were taking care of the cats. We decided we would give them an extra week to try and place the cats, or there are a couple of options that they gave me that they were looking at,” said Adamo.
Adamo said NPS could potentially offer staff to help trap the animals and remove the debris, as well as a vehicle to transport them a short distance. He said the cat caretakers are looking at facilities in Maryland or upstate New York, among others.
“They’re saying they will help and they don’t want them to go to the shelters and they want them to go to places where they have more assurances that it will go to a permanent home, which would be a good win-win solution to the situation,” said Adamo.
Contrary to the claims of cat lovers, Adamo said NPS never had plans to kill the cats. In most cases, colonies are dismantled as soon as they’re discovered and the cats are trapped and brought to local shelters for adoption, and just about every cat they’ve captured in the past has been assessed as adoptable by the shelters.
Normally there is no notice to the community, but he said that when NPS employees discovered the colony sometime in the last month, they were struck by its size and apparent maintenance, as well as the condition of the cats.
“In this case we noticed it was a large colony and they were healthy and cared for. We thought maybe we’d give them a chance to work with us on this and it appears that’s what we’re doing,” he said.
Despite flack from feline fans, Adamo maintained that removing the colony was essential to the parkland’s habitat.
“It’s our responsibility in the Parks Service to protect wildlife,” he said. “It’s a very difficult situation, especially here in New York, next to densely populated areas where non-native cats – and they’re all non-native – are always going to be coming into the park either by people bringing them there or by just wandering in.”
Even though they’re fed by humans, the cats still pray on area wildlife. The problem is even more urgent on Plumb Beach, a protected nesting ground for migratory birds including some endangered and at-risk species
“As land managers and natural resource managers for the park, [we must] do due diligence in protection of the wildlife,” said Adamo.
It doesn’t appear the decision has fully satisfied the cat enthusiasts. One of the colony’s caretakers, Nancy Rogers, has launched a petition online saying that the additional week now being granted is insufficient.
“The caretakers are willing to find homes for these cats but need more than the one week now allotted to accomplish this difficult task,” Rogers writes in the petition’s description. The petition launched yesterday afternoon and already has 193 supporters, and simply says “Stop the removal of the Plum Beach Cats.”