We just found a recent article about the famed incident between Texan Jim Stevenson and a feral cat. The Wall Street Journal retells the happenings of when Mr. Stevenson shot and killed a feral cat, a cat stalking endangered Piping Plovers.
Now, if you are a birder, you know how bad feral cats are for birds. But this isn’t why Jim is on trial. He is being charged with killing someone’s “pet” cat. Without getting into Texas law, the basics are that Jim was acting lawfully as long as this cat wasn’t someone’s pet. The debate is that a toll-booth operator had made claims that this cat was his “pet”.
I am sure that many people across the U.S. feel like they are doing a noble deed when they feed stray cats. But a cat roaming a neighborhood or in this case, a beach, is by definition not a pet. This doesn’t mean that if your pet gets loose it is no longer your pet. But feral cats are just that, FERAL. They aren’t pets.
But the other side of this debate is that feral cats are part of the natural ecosystem. We say no! Feral cats are a form of the typical house cat that have gone wild. They don’t belong in natural ecosystems and are not protected by any law. Also, the act of feeding a wild animal does not give the feeder ownership of that animal.
In fact, since the toll-booth operator has admitted to feeding the feral cats, he is acting against the Endangered Species Act. Section 9.2 (B) states that
[it is prohibited to] remove and reduce to possession any such species from areas under Federal jurisdiction; maliciously damage or destroy any such species on any such area; or remove, cut, dig up, or damage or destroy any such species on any other area in knowing violation of any law or regulation of any state or in the course of any violation of a state criminal trespass law
If that wasn’t enough, feral cat enablers also could be charged under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act that protects all “migratory birds and their parts (including eggs, nests, and feathers)”. The Piping Plover is on the list. (Bird Related Laws)
It is high time that people and the law fight for wildlife for a change.
We are proud owners of a once-feral cat, that has become a family pet and has been with us for 13 years. She has never hunted any protected bird.