JOAN: I have been walking an area of the East Bay Park
system every morning for about 15 years now. It has
become a relaxing and healthy ritual for me.
has always been somewhat natural and full of native
wildlife including snakes, lizards, frogs and a
multitude of bird life, which I have appreciated and
last five years or so, I have noticed a large population
of feral cats that have invaded the area and noticed
that the native animal population is now almost
non-existent. On my last few walks, I have found three
dead snakes, several dead lizards and an alive but
injured baby gopher on the trails. Seeing a live reptile
is now a rarity.
several protected bird nesting areas within the areas I
frequent and there are feral cats there, too.
noticed several people feeding these cats on a regular
basis, and I wonder if morally, this is a good idea and
if a permit is needed to feed feral animals near posted
I am no
cat hater and have had several house cats of my own over
the years. I just find it so sad to see a healthy native
population of creatures decimated by a handful of
invasive predators in just a few years.
I wonít argue that cats can kill all sorts of
wildlife, but we donít know for certain that they are
entirely responsible for the decline youíre seeing.
sure theyíve contributed to it, but there are other
predators in the parks and open spaces, and letís not
forget climate change and human interactions that also
could be in play here.
answer the morality of feeding feral cats. Itís
difficult for some people, myself included, to see
animals in need and not act. Some believe that by
feeding the cats, they are saving at least some of the
of feral cats is a complicated one, and there is great
debate on what should and shouldnít be done. I have no
answers, however, the law is pretty clear throughout the
state that dumping cats and feeding feral cat colonies
in state parks is prohibited. The East Bay Regional Park
District has a policy that bans the release and feeding
of cats and other animals that are not part of the
addition to the suspected cat destruction, naturalists
also are concerned about the spread of toxoplasmosis, a
protozoan parasite that is formed in the catsí
digestive systems and excreted in the feces. Animals and
humans alike can be exposed to the parasite, and once it
is in the water, it can harm or kill aquatic animals as
are blameless. They have a natural instinct to hunt, and
for some, it is the only option they have to ensure
their own survival. Itís the same as a hawk killing a
songbird, a coyote killing a rabbit or a mountain lion
killing a deer. Everything has to eat. What is different
in this case is that cats are not part of the natural
environment, and they donít always kill to eat.
why I encourage people to have their pets neutered and
to keep them indoors or contained in backyards.