Thursday, June 22, 2017

Catnip Nation's June Report: The Plight of a Jones Beach Feral Colony

Last month I brought you the first installment of a series of posts by Tina Traster, Producer and Director of the documentary film Catnip Nation. This month Tina tells us about a lawsuit that could have a devastating long term effect on feral cat colonies. Thankfully, Alley Cat Allies is involved in the case and hopefully it will have a positive outcome. It saddens me that this is happening so close to my home. Please tell us your thoughts in the comments below and let's get this conversation started. I'm also asking you to please share this post on social media to bring attention to what's happening on Jones Beach. 

There are still a few days left to help out Catnip Nation on their Seed and Spark campaign. Let's help them spread the word about the importance of advocating for feral cats. And don't forget to come back in July to read Tina's next update. 
Dawn

Cats Versus The Birds on Jones Beach


Hello all, from the Catnip Nation team. You may remember reading about our documentary project a month ago on this blog. We’re planning on keeping you updated on a monthly basis on our project, and to give you an inside peek into the stories we are following.

Catnip Nation is a documentary that tells the stories of a handful of unsung and unseen heroes who care for ferals, and the adversity they come up against.  Ultimately, we will use the film to advocate for laws for TNR, and to stimulate a national conversation so people who do this incredible work can come out from the shadows.


Catnip nation documentary

In this blog post, we’d like to bring your attention to a lawsuit that could have a lasting impact on feral cat colonies. In April 2016, the American Bird Conservancy, a powerful advocacy group, sued New York State Parks Commissioner Rose Harvey, for allegedly violating the federal Endangered Species Act by allowing cats (and cat colonies) to remain on Jones Beach, on Long Island. The ABC alleges the cats are creating “the likelihood of injury” to piping plovers. The plovers, shorebirds that migrate in the spring and nest in sand divots, are considered threatened by the federal government and endangered by the state of New York.

Jones Beach is also home to at least two well-fed colonies of feral or homeless cats. Some volunteers say they’ve been reducing populations through Trap, Neuter, Return (TNR).

Birding advocates say cats prey on the plovers and their chicks, but cat advocates – who are far more under-represented – dispute this claim. They say the cats and plovers “are not really in close proximity”, and they maintain that well-fed colonies are less likely to predate on birds.



If the video doesn't play, you can view it on YouTube

We have been following this situation for Catnip Nation because a ruling on a federal suit like this one could have tremendous implications for cat colonies everywhere. It seems bird advocacy groups are not easily convinced that TNR is effective, humane, and even cost effective. Cat advocates try to explain that rounding up colonies and euthanizing cats just creates a “vacuum effect,” which means new cats will arrive and take their place. Bird advocates take a black-and-white view on this.

For our film, we’ve been closely monitoring this case. Here’s what we can report as of now. The colony care-takers continue to feed and trap. They view this as their “job” and their duty to these living creatures. The Washington, D.C.-based Alley Cat Allies is weighing in on the lawsuit, but they are not a party to the suit. According to court filings, the two sides have been going back and forth for a year, but now they’ve asked for a 60-day “stay” in order to work out a settlement, and to include entities that are not parties to the suit.

It’s entirely unclear whether a mutually-agreeable negotiation can be worked out, but as we shape this story, a couple of aspects of this story stand out. First, the colony caretakers are completely in the dark on the issue, and while they’re upset and worried, there’s been no community support for them. The other interesting thing I can infer from monitoring the case is that the state has been willing to put up a fight. The Commissioner could have caved by now and ordered the cats gone. But perhaps they don’t believe the ABC has sound proof that the cats are the problem, and the burden is ultimately on the ABC to prove this in a specific way.

Please weigh in. We’d love to hear your thoughts on this.

And, if you’d like to help support Catnip Nation, please visit our campaign page.


Tina Traster is a socially-conscious, award-winning journalist, author, and filmmaker. Her 30-minute documentary, This House Matters, is an examination on historic preservation in the Hudson Valley. The film has screened at the YoFi Film Festival, the Kingston Film Festival, the Hoboken International Film Festival, and the Nyack Film Festival. Traster's work has appeared in scores of newspapers, magazines and literary journals including The New York Times, The New York Post, Huffington Post, The Daily Beast, The Atlantic, Redbook, Family Circle, Parade, Time Out New York, Audubon, Ski Magazine and many others. She is the author of the award-winning memoir Rescuing Julia Twice: A Mother's Tale of Russian Adoption and Overcoming Reactive Attachment Disorder. Since 2006, Traster has written the "Burb Appeal"column for The New York Post. 

39 comments:

  1. My human and I worry so much about feral cat colonies like this one, that are attacked by well-funded but misinformed bird groups. I really hope for the day when these bird groups become more educated and learn that TNR is an effective, humane solution to feral cats.

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    1. Yes, exactly. Education is needed. Hoping our film, Catnip Nation, will help

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  2. Oh the bastards are at it again are they? We have cat haters here masquerading as natural and environment lovers. Hypocrites, hateful hypocrites to man and woman. My dad works with statistics and he can tell you statistics can be made to say anything.

    These are hateful and wicked people!

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  3. we hate that colonies and caretakers are put at risk simply by those who are "convinced" they are right and using bad science. we hope that that the Judge can see that protected ALL the animals is the right decision

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  4. I get angry everytime this same thing surfaces in some community or other. Feral cats at not the only ones who chase birds. in fact, most feral cat communities aroundh here are supplied with food, so they are not catching birds as a food source. Cats are always the first to be blamed. I also hope the judge can look beyond all that!

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  5. "the cats are creating “the likelihood of injury” to piping plovers."

    The word likelihood itself bears mentioning; where's the ACTUAL footage//proof
    the ferals are responsible

    I am curious if raccoon, skunk and fox; natural predators of this bird, will be included in this lawsuit ?

    And, the last sentence in the paragraph in the link below also needs to be mentioned.

    https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Piping_Plover/id

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    1. I agree! The Audabon Society is being biased & blaming everything on the poor cats! Do they want to round-up every single other wildlife species as well? That is not only an insane stance, but an IGNORANT one as well!


      Enviornmental Scientist, Rachael Carson's book "Silent Spring" was decades before it's time, speaking of enviornmental estrogens, that were endocrine disruptors, that would/have effected nature in devestating ways. These factors MUST be considered when also assessing why these birds are perishing, as well as other birds, & a myriad of other wildlife as well. These xenoestrogens ARE effecting human's reproductive demise as well. I hope this book could be used as evidence & the judge take this important information into account.

      The cats AREN'T the problem, but the Audabon Society needs a "scape-goat" & they have an obvious agenda, & it's to "rid" the cats!

      When ANY "group" looks to irradicate a species based on emotion & not fact! then lawsuits like these need to quickly been thrown out of court! The proof of burden is on them, to prove,this is the case, and they CAN'T because there is NO REASONABLE SCIENCE that PROVES THIS! The "junk science" these ppl sight & regularly use,is bogus at best! They cannot be allowed to get away with this! because if they "get an inch, they will take a mile!"

      Fund's MUST be raised to equal what these Audabon ppl can raise for their plight. We need accredited witness's to be able to bring the REAL science forth in a court of law! & Dr. Carson's findings in "A Silent Spring" should be used in this case!

      These cats lives MATTER! just as much as any of these birds! They have been victims of humans CRUELTY & thrown to the streets like garbage! Their life is hard enough living outside! to then take away the only home they've ever known, is just beyond cruel!, & it's victimizing them once again!!!!

      As a feral cat caretaker for over 15 yrs, I too know how villified we are, when all we are trying to do, is be a good person & "right the wrong" of what was done to these poor innocent cats!

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  6. I think the humans who stir this crap up are bird-brained idiots and I hope they come back as a litter box in their next life!

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  7. We worry about these cat colonies and we hope something can be worked out.

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  8. I hope they raise the needed funds. I am praying for these poor kitties.

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  9. This makes us so sad, we love birds here but we can't stand these bird people that hate cats. We has our paws crossed the cats win.

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  10. TSK TSK TSK... some peeps just can't help themselves but cause a crap-storm....

    We have no wurds fur their ignorance

    Big hugs

    Basil & Co xox

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  11. I'm glad that these cats are so well cared for and looked after. I'm sorry their sanctuary is being threatened. We recently had to revoke our cat's outdoor privileges because she killed 2 baby bunnies and has caught a bunch of birds over the years too. She's the best fed cat that I know and her killing has nothing to do with wanting to eat the birds, bunnies, etc. It's an instinctual thing. I hope a resolution can be found that keeps the cats and the birds safe and makes all parties happy.

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  12. It's a real shame that bird groups can't be set straight. I've even had to correct family members about this. We need to keep spreading the word and fighting back because these cats aren't to blame! Thank you for this post and I look forward to your next update on the project.

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  13. I really hope this gets worked out. Such a shame. Leave the sanctuary alone people!!

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  14. This is very sad to read. Most times this is born out of ignorance about cats in general. Hoping this resolves in the cat colonies favour!

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  15. How frustrating for everyone involved. You'd think the people trying to protect birds would understand the value of life - even in feline form. It sounds like there's a lot of fear and anger from those trying to protect the birds - without much actual evidence that cats are the problem. Has anyone actually seen one of the cats with a plover? I wonder if there's a way to track either and see if they're actually coming into contact with each other. I remember reading about songbird conservationists in England blaming cats for the decrease in number - but the real cause was an illness among the birds. Feral cats are always blamed and villainized and it makes me angry - they're just the easiest scapegoat for problems. I'm fairly confident that humans have done far more damage to the plover population than cats ever will. I've heard from a few cat lovers that most cats can't even catch birds - beyond luck or a sick bird.

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  16. Wow! I give so much credit to those who do this on a volunteer basis! Bless their hearts! I do hope this lawsuit gets worked out in favor of the cats and those working hard in the program!

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  17. I know I'm going against the grain here, but I think both parties have reasonable concerns. Now, I don't know if feral cats are in fact preying upon the pipers, but if they are, that is bad for the birds. It seems like it would be pretty easy to set up a video tape and figure out if the cats are attacking the birds.

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  18. That's a hard topic, but I will say you guys are doing an amazing job of giving! I hope everything gets worked out in the best interest of the colonies.

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  19. An interesting topic that I imagine sparks a lot of animosity from both groups. I don't know enough about the impact of feral cat colonies on migrating plovers but do strongly believe that one species should not offset the other. There is danger when there is imbalance.

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  20. What a predicament. Frankly, I don't know. The cats have the right to be taken care of and I suppose the birds have the right to have their own peace. It's difficult. That said, I think that everything always infringes on something else. At some point we need to pick our priorities.

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  21. God bless that lady and all those that help to fed and TNR these cats. It's not their fault they are there just trying to survive. Such a shame the bird people can't see that. :( I hope everything works out in their favor for the cats in the legal system.

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  22. Kudos to all volunteers ! Keep it up !
    HUG from me
    =^x^=

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  23. How terrible that these bird groups are using bad science to push their own agenda. We hope that somehow, some way, the groups involved can find some resolution. For the sake of the cats AND the birds!

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  24. Horrible how some people can behave - hope the situation improves! Scruffs Luxury Dog Beds.

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  25. I can't begin to tell you how disturbed I am to hear this! I've spent a good deal of my life going to Jones Beach. Those bird advocates continually discriminate against dogs & cats. They totally value birds & waterfowl over dog & cats. It makes me so mad! You're right about colonies; when cats are removed, others move in to take their place. I shared on my social channels. Great post & video, thank you!
    Love & biscuits,
    Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them

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  26. I can't begin to tell you how disturbed I am to hear this! I've spent a good deal of my life going to Jones Beach. Those bird advocates continually discriminate against dogs & cats. They totally value birds & waterfowl over dog & cats. It makes me so mad! You're right about colonies; when cats are removed, others move in to take their place. I shared on my social channels. Great post & video, thank you!
    Love & biscuits,
    Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them

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  27. What upsets me the most is instead of two organizations sitting together to try find a solution as the birds/cats lives are at risk - and they are all animal lovers they fight over it and that is just so wrong. We will never solve animal rights issues if organizations cannot sit down together.

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  28. It's so unfortunate that so many articles are out there in the public that support the bird groups and promote getting rid of cats. We know it happens, but if the groups would work together, it would be a better world for everyone. We think there could be problems with bird lovers just not liking cats. We hope this can be worked out.

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  29. I'm glad that the cat lovers are standing up for the feral cats. In my experience, cats that are fed by humans don't hunt very much. Why would they? It is less work to eat the food that people are providing them. Hunting is hard. From what I've read, air pollution is a much bigger threat to birds than feral cats are. Birds are very sensitive to airborne toxins.

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  30. This is extremely unfortunate. I can hear the complaints about rats now when they remove the cats. And I bet rats are a bigger threat to the nests and eggs than cats are. Here in the city we protect feral colonies to help control the rat population.

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  31. If the feral colonies are well maintained/fed, then they shouldn't be a threat to the birds. As mentioned above, it doesn't appear there's proof cats are the problem. I would hazard a guess humans are more of a threat to the birds than cats, with all the trash and pollution we cause. Sharing on social media......

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  32. Such a sad situation to want to removal (or worse) of one animal for the livelihood of another. And I very much agree with the other comments here, if the cats are being fed and cared for (esp. with TNR being employed) how much hunting would they really be doing? Hopefully your film can make an impact and hopefully we can let these animals live in harmony.

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  33. Before I was able to have the females in my colony spayed, I witnessed hawks from Sandy Hook, NJ pickup kittens to take back to Sandy Hook.

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  34. I hope they can figure out a compromise and the lawsuit is resolved. Could they video to see what's really going on?

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  35. It's so unfortunate that bird groups like this continue to spread false information and create more strife and difficulty for feral cats and those that work with ferals. Education about the truth is so important - getting the word out about TNR and how it WORKS! I will definitely share this post, and I hope that the legislation rules in favor of the Jones Beach cats!

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  36. While I definitely support efforts to protect endangered species, I absolutely agree that well-managed and well-fed feral colonies don't typically go after birds. This has always been my experience from the ferals I have worked with - not a ton, but enough to weigh in.

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  37. Many bird groups believe that cats are responsible for too many bird deaths. It is too bad. It is like special interest groups wanting the banning of all pet sales (including no kill shelters from "selling" pets in pet stores) because it supports puppy mills (as is happening in the city I live)
    Big Sigh...I wish people would become better informed before they jump on band wagons.
    Love
    Barb

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