Nico Dauphine, who holds a Ph.D. in wildlife ecology and was a former researcher at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo, received a one-year suspended sentence this week for trying to poison feral cats in the Columbia Heights area of Washington D.C. (Credit: Huffington Post)
Dauphine's sentence included a year of supervised probation and 120 hours of community service. Plus she must stay away from cats.
|Cat from Colony ACR has TNRed|
Dauphine was found guilty of placing rat poison in the food that one of her neighbors had left outside their apartment building for felines. Prosecutors said Dauphine was upset because feral cats prey on migratory birds.
Do migratory birds live in Columbia Heights—a busy and highly populated part of the city? Matt Todd, who has been bird watching for 15 years, told The Huffington Post he doesn't know of any birds in Columbia Heights that would be considered "endangered." Rock Creek Park, he said, has some interesting migrating songbirds -- like warblers -- but "they don't really venture into the city," he said. "They're sticking to the green highway the park provides."
Columbia Heights does have birds, Todd said, but they are very common types -- pigeons, sparrows and starlings. "Not birds that are necessarily endangered," he noted.
Steve Pretl, president of the Montgomery Bird Club, says he doesn't know of any unusual birds in Columbia Heights, either. "When I walk in the area, I see the normal complement of city birds -- pigeons, house sparrows, the occasional mockingbird," he wrote in an email.
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In a later (Huffington Post) interview, Pretl said it was possible that Meridian Hill Park (located directly across from the Park Square apartment building) could be home to a red-tailed hawk, although he wasn't aware of one actually living there -- and even if there were, he said, a cat probably wouldn't put it at risk.
"Among birders and conservationists, a lot of people really decry outdoor cats as big killers of birds," Pretl said. "But this sounds like an indiscriminate thing. I'd be surprised if there were any fragile populations of birds in this neighborhood, in downtown D.C."
Alley Cat Rescue for many years has been concerned about this anti-cat sentiment that the environmental groups have circulated. They have turned the cat into a scapegoat for the many ills of the planet. Damage that humans have caused with our buildings, golf courses, shopping malls, roads has caused a massive loss of habitat for birds and other wildlife.
Louise Holton, ACR President, says: “At Alley Cat Rescue we care about ALL animals, including birds and wildlife. By providing TNR services to reduce cat populations and by doing a few simple things to reduce our own impact on the world, we can help cats, birds and other wildlife.”
She called for “calmer heads” to prevail and for environmentalists to work with TNR groups, not against them, to help reduce and control outdoor cats.
Said Holton: “We have been working on reducing feral cat population for over 20 years, but none of us have enough resources to do this alone. It has been left up to “ordinary individuals” to use their own money to spay and neuter feral cats. We need an influx of funds to enable us to do more.”
“And we do NOT need this constant distraction having to defend our humane and effective work. Total eradication on continents will never be achieved. And on islands where this has been tried, it took many years, several methods like poisoning, shooting, and hunting dogs. And even then caused the rodent population to explode, causing even more problems.”
The environmental groups never give any real solution. They vaguely say “build sanctuaries” or take them to animal control for adoption.
Well one cannot build enough “sanctuaries” and, in any case, who will fund these?
And “take them to animal control” means killing the cats, as ferals are usually killed immediately by animal control. In any event animal control agencies can barely keep up with all the cats dumped on them daily, how on earth can they still send out trappers to catch-and-kill?
Those folks who care about humane, nonlethal control should ALL tell the environmental groups, bird groups, and local authorities to embrace TNR for feral cats. It’s the only thing that DOES work.