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Kauai mulls how to reduce feral cat population

    In this image taken from video

LIHUE >> Kauai is considering how to reduce feral cats blamed for killing threatened native seabirds.

Potential measures include prohibiting the feeding and sheltering of cats on county-owned or managed properties, The Garden Island newspaper reported. Other proposals would strengthen cat licensing laws and create a free, county-funded spay or neuter program.

An 11-member Feral Cat Task Force compiled the proposals. The group recommended that the island aim to have no feral, abandoned or stray cats by 2025.

Mayor Bernard Carvalho’s administration will consider the ideas while drafting legislation on the issue.

Cats are a major threat to Kauai’s native seabirds, whose populations have been rapidly declining. Officials last week released video showing cats pulling a Newell’s Shearwater, a threatened species, and a Hawaiian Petrel, an endangered species, out of burrows and killing the birds.

In a 113-page report, the task force called for thinning out the island’s feral cat population in two phases.

The first phase, which would end in 2020, would require trap, neuter, release and monitor colonies to be “rigorously registered, certified and monitored” and have a minimum 90 percent spay or neuter rate.

Sick and injured cats would be removed, while new colony arrivals and kittens would be removed and made available for adoption or euthanasia.

By the second phase, all cat colonies would have to be on private property, completely fenced, registered, certified and monitored.

Unregistered cats found in areas not recognized as cat colonies would be trapped and either put up for adoption or euthanized.

“I know that’s tough — that’s very tough for people who love the lives of cats and love cats as companion animals,” said Peter Adler, the task force’s director. “It has to be done humanely, but we can’t just leave this problem to sort itself out.”

Task force member Judy Dalton said she did not agree with using lethal methods to reduce feral cats. She was concerned that non-adopted cats, especially kittens, may be euthanized eventually. Having zero cats, she warned, could also lead rat and mice populations to spike.

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