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Feeding feral cats, camping now banned at some state harbors

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Gov. David Ige has approved new rules for the state’s small boat harbors that prohibit camping and the feeding of feral cats at the harbors.

Public hearings for the new rules for the Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation were held in July, and the new rules took effect Friday, according to a statement from DLNR released Friday.

“DOBOR’s priority is the health and safety of all of the harbor users,” according to the written statement. “DLNR is also looking to protect native and endangered species as feral animals threaten birds, mammals, seals and other fauna. It is important to have a mechanism to address the department’s harbor health and endangered species concerns as necessary.”

The new rules prohibit anyone from feeding individuals or colonies of strays on any property under the control of the boating and ocean recreation division. That applies to the feeding of birds, cats, chickens, deer, dogs, eels, fish, mongooses, pigs, rodents, seals, sharks, turtles and other creatures, according to the new rule.

The new rules also prohibit abandoning cats or other strays at boating facilities, and violators who dump animals at the harbors may be fined up to $1,000.

Ed Underwood, administrator for the boating division, said feral cat colonies are an “issue” at some harbors, and “we’re trying to work with these folks about telling them that the harbors are not the best place to have these cat colonies.”

Cat feces that washes into the water can cause toxoplasmosis in Hawaiian monk seals, and has been blamed for the deaths of at least eight of the endangered seals since 2001.

He said cat colonies are an issue in both the Haleiwa and Keehi small boat harbors, but “we have feral cats everywhere.”

“Our intent isn’t to go out and eradicate any predators,” Underwood said. “We’re trying the encourage the cat colony folks to find a more suitable location for them.”

Sleeping and camping is already banned at small boat harbors, but the new rules would expand that ban to all property controlled by the Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation. However, sleeping and camping would be allowed for people on boats that are properly moored in the harbors with the authorization of DLNR.

That rule change would not affect the sizable homeless encampment near the Waianae small boat harbor because that camp is on property controlled by DLNR’s Division of Aquatic Resources, Underwood said.

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