[Ed. – Technically, the smackdown is, as ever, between the human advocates for feral cats and the advocates for endangered birds. Why, you ask, are there human advocates for feral cats, when there are more than enough domesticated cats to go around? Or maybe you knew better than to ask such a silly question. In any case, the champions of the piping plover are earnestly rehearsing the obvious in their quest to make headway against the feral-cat brigade. Pass the popcorn.]
An American Bird Conservancy lawsuit claims the state is failing to adequately protect an endangered bird species called the piping plover by allowing cat lovers to feed and care for a colony of feral felines on the barrier island where the birds nest. The federal suit wants a judge to order the cats removed.
Advocates on both sides of the debate say the creatures are defenseless and could not survive without human help.
“We just can’t bring these cats somewhere else,” said Stephanie Capuano, who lives near the beach and has been taking care of the cats for about 16 years in makeshift shelters made from pallets and plastic tarps. …
Grant Sizemore, the bird conservancy’s director of invasive species programs, said the fact that the cats are well-fed and cared for does not reduce the hazard to the piping plover.
“Feeding feral cats, as happens at Jones Beach, does not eliminate their instinct to hunt,” he said. “And in fact, the mere presence of cats has been shown to have significant adverse effects on breeding birds.”