East Bay Regional Parks considers new policy after cat shootings

A district staff has proposed revised policies to include better coordination with local animal rescue organizations, increased efforts to trap and rehome the cats and encourage spay and neutering.

Video Transcript

- My God. Look who's on my car!

LAURA ANTHONY: The ABC7 News I-Team first uncovered the controversial policy in December, through the eyes of Cecilia Theis, who had been feeding and caring for a colony of about 30 feral cats at an East Oakland office park-- only to discover that a dozen had been shot and killed by East Bay Regional Parks District staff, after the cats wandered into a nearby marsh.

CECILIA THEIS: It's not OK to shoot these beings that were-- some of them were pets.

LAURA ANTHONY: Now, district staff has proposed revising policies to include better coordination with local animal services and rescue organizations, increased efforts to trap and rehome the animals, and greater public outreach to encourage spay and neutring, and discourage the abandonment of cats and the feeding of those already on the loose.

KRISTINA KELCHNER: We're hoping to work with our community to help them understand that the cats do need to be relocated away from the sensitive habitat areas.

FLEUR DAWES: While we're pleased that the policy seems to be to work with local advocates and to prefer not killing cats, we want to see a pledge that this never happens, ever again.

LAURA ANTHONY: The issues seem to be mostly at the district's parks along shorelines. That is where feral cats are more likely to interact with endangered wildlife, like rare bird species.

Even with revised policies the district reserves the right for another agency to use lethal means as a last resort.

FLEUR DAWES: There's absolutely no excuse for shooting cats, ever. There's always a humane solution.

LAURA ANTHONY: The district's full board of directors will consider whether to adopt the revised free-roaming cat management policy at a later date.