Your Florida Backyard NSiS Home Page Your Florida Backyard The FWC and Feral Cats
On May 30, 2003, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) adopted a policy to protect native wildlife from free-ranging and feral cats be it by predation, the spread of disease, or otherwise.
 
Sounds reasonable? You're appalled this happened? You're appalled it took so long?
 
Well, you're probably going to get more annoyed -- no matter which side of the issue you're on -- when you find out how they're wiggling around on the specifics. Little things like it only applies to "rare" wildlife, and probably only on FWC land, and they're going to talk about it and, to sum it all up, they say:
 
"It calls for us to work cooperatively with other land-management agencies to prevent the release or feeding of cats on public lands supporting wildlife habitat."

Pardon me, but just how much public land do we have left that supports wildlife habitat? Is it enough to feed a cat on?
 
They're going to develop a public-awareness campaign.
 
The FWC, amazed that anyone noticed, decided to correct the misunderstandings about the policy. They also provide a review of the policy.
 
Here's a pro-cat presentation from the policy meeting. One little tidbit: "The number of feral cats in the state is unknown, but likely reaches into the millions. A survey performed in Alachua County recently determined that feral cats were fed by 12% of households and represented 44% to the total cat population in the county." So what have they done?
 
On August 29, 2003, following a complaint, an administrative law judge ruled that the FWC has the authority to establish a policy regarding feral cats. Duh? Here's some of the background and press releases from Alley Cat Allies from a pro-cat perspective.
 
They held a closed forum on January 30, 2004.
 
And .. they have a brochure up on their website, dated November, 2001, entitled Impacts of Feral and Free-ranging Domestic Cats on Wildlife in Florida (PDF format).
 
That's it on their website, other than a single page on the Domestic Cat.
 
Here's the American Bird Conservancy's view of Cat Predation in Florida and "Managed" Cat Colonies in Florida, including information about Daniel Castillo's study of managed cats in colonies in Miami-Dade parks.
 
The above links are part of the ABC's Cats Indoors! campaign for safer birds and cats.
 
The now defunct Bear Foundation, "Working for the Protection and Welfare of Abandoned, Homeless and Feral Cats" in Florida, opposed the policy but I can't find anything on their site about efforts to prevent cats from becoming feral in the first place.
 
And in summation, ENN's article on The Raging Debate.
 
Who's to blame? People. The ones that didn't and don't take care of wildlife and habitat and the ones that didn't and don't take care of their cats.
 
That's us, folks.
 
The ODP Free-Roaming and Feral Cats categories contain listings of many sites, both pro and con.
 

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