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Sep 13

“Senator Says: Don’t Feed the Cats!”

UPDATE  —  SUCCESS!

We have learned today that Senator Clarence Nishihara, who is the Introducer of SB2017 (imposing a $1,000 fine for feeding feral cats, see story below), informed EnviroWatch, Inc. that he has asked the Chairwoman of the Committee to which the bill was referred NOT to schedule the bill for hearing!

Senator Nishihara also indicated his willingness to address humane control of feral populations through TNRR.   He said he is interested in seeking assistance from feral cat caretakers and other members of the public, regarding authoring a Resolution to evaluate the steps the government could take to complement the efforts of the many volunteers in the TNRR program.

MAHALO to all who wrote opposing the bill.  

Your early action has nipped this ill-conceived bill in the bud!

 

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FERAL CATS WHO FOUND A HOME!  (See Post and Photos Below)

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“Senator Says:  Don’t Feed the Cats —  Or You Will Be Fined $1,000!”

Sen. Clarence Nishihara

Editorial by Pam Davis, President, Animal Advocate Inc.

 

A cat cared for by feral cat caretakers

Well, here we go again. Senate Bill (SB) 2017, “Relating to Feral Cats,” seeks to impose a civil fine of up to $1,000 for each “offense,” i.e., feeding a feral cat.

On January 16, 2008, SB 2017 was introduced by Senator Clarence K. Nishihara, and passed first reading.   On 1-18-08, the bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Hawaiian Affairs, Committee on Health, and Ways and Means.   We’ve been through this before and, sadly, it appears that Senator Nishihara and other legislators weren’t listening.

 Is Nishihara Serious???!!!

The text of SB 2017 states that Hawaii faces an overpopulation of feral cats, and the problems associated with this include “public health risk and nuisance to humans, unchecked reproduction, and predation of birds.”   We, too, are concerned about the native and non-native birds and flora and fauna of Hawaii, and that is one reason why the feral cat feeders deserve our support. Feral cat feeders employ Trap-Neuter-Release-Return (“TNRR”), which is a proven, effective method of non-lethal feline population control.   I don’t believe that SB 2017 will reduce feral populations.   Do the senators think that once the feral cat feeders stop coming all the cats will lose their appetites and die overnight?   If not, then what do the senators propose?   Do they plan to trap the cats, and if so, who will pay for it?   Once cats are trapped, do the senators propose their wholesale slaughter?   That would be cruel.   Obviously, this ill-conceived bill represents the solution to nothing.

An O'ahu feral cat

I wonder if there is already a law that penalizes the irresponsible humans who abandon their cats and if so, why don’t our legislators work to strengthen that law?   That would be a more proactive solution.   Yet, rather than sponsor legislation to punish those who thoughtlessly ‘dump’ animals, leading to the feral overpopulation, Senator Nishihara seeks to punish the dedicated, responsible people who manage feral cat colonies.   A study conducted in Minnesota found that for every $1 invested in spay/neuter programs, they saved over $19 in animal control costs over 10 years.   Yet the feral cat feeders receive no public recognition nor public monies for their work, even though they are providing an important service.   Instead of promoting backward legislation to punish the cat feeders, why doesn’t the senator sponsor legislation to aid already successful feral cat management through TNRR?

In the few days since this bill was introduced, I’ve received many e-mails from people in Hawaii, the mainland, and even from foreign countries expressing opposition to this bill.   Some snippets: “However, our experience, and that of thousands of other people who have worked on this problem is that stopping the feeding of feral cats does not make the problem go away.  Rather, it makes it worse.  Stressed populations have larger litters.”   And: “Legislative efforts should be put into spay and neuter programs for feral cats.   This will take care of the problem.   Many thousands of people across the nation have put volunteer time that they don’t have into fighting this problem.  Please do not undo the valuable work of so many with this bill.  It would set back progress and would have the opposite effect than its intention.”   Also:  “We find this to be such an archaic and inhumane approach to dealing with the situation of ferals.  By the way, it was the meddling of environmentalists that introduced the mongoose to control rodents that decimated the bird population.  It’s human encroachment that continues to decimate the bird population, not to mention, lizards, etc.”

To be fair, it isn’t only Senator Nishihara who doesn’t “get it.”   The people of Hawaii aren’t even able to get our legislators to pass a ban on killing cats and dogs for human consumption, despite overwhelming public support.   They wouldn’t even schedule a hearing for that bill.   Yet, they apparently have no problem sponsoring regressive laws aimed at punishing responsible citizens who perform acts of compassion and caring for animals in need, and who also provide an important service to the community.

The words of Mohandas Gandhi still resonate: “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”

Find text for Senator Nishihara’s bill at:     http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/session2008/bills/SB2017_.htm

Please use the link below to tell Senator Nishihara to immediately withdraw the bill and his sponsorship:     http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/site1/senate/members/sen18.asp

Please contact Committee Chairs; click on addresses:

Sen. Rosalyn H. Baker — Chair Senate Ways and Means Comm.

senbaker@Capitol.hawaii.gov

 

Sen. Jill N. Tokuda — Chair Agric. & Hawaiian Affairs Comm.

sentokuda@Capitol.hawaii.gov

 

Sen. David Y. Ige — Chair Senate Comm. on Health

sendige@Capitol.hawaii.gov

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FERAL CATS WHO HAVE FOUND A HOME!

Feral kittens who have been trapped and neutered, removed from the wild, fostered by a cat caretaker, and placed in a loving, forever home.

MAHALO to all of the feral cat caretakers for their selfless efforts on behalf of the animals.