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Cats endangered by U.S. park plan, group says

Four neutered feral cats eat their breakfast.
Four neutered feral cats eat their breakfast.
Marc Selinger

A national animal welfare group says the U.S. National Park Service (NPS) is considering expanding its ability to kill cats on NPS land.

In a “legislative alert” e-mailed to supporters this week, Best Friends Animal Society wrote that a proposed regulation mainly dealing with service animals contains a provision that would allow the Park Service to engage in the “indiscriminate killing” of feral, stray and pet cats.

“The current regulation already allows cats and other animals deemed to be a threat to humans, livestock or wildlife on NPS land to be ‘destroyed,’” Utah-based Best Friends said. “The proposed regulation (RIN #1024-AE06) goes further, essentially allowing cats to be killed merely for being present on NPS land. Rather than promoting and expanding indiscriminate killing opportunities, the NPS should be working with local municipalities to ensure positive outcomes (e.g., reunite pets with their people, relocate community cats) for cats found on NPS lands.”

Best Friends spokeswoman Barbara Williamson explained that while her organization generally opposes relocating feral cats and prefers that they stay in their outdoor environment, it also believes that relocation would be “a better alternative to lethal roundups.”

The alert asks cat lovers to weigh in by urging the Park Service to remove the feline-related provision. The deadline for public input on the proposed regulation is June 17.

In a June 13 blog, Best Friends CEO Gregory Castle expressed concern that the proposed regulation, if adopted, could set a dangerous precedent for other government agencies.

"This kind of policy change is likely to have negative consequences for other federal government departments and at the state/local level too, providing rationale for similarly misguided policies," Castle wrote .

The Park Service did not respond to requests for comment.

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