UPDATE: Parks Department Defends Option of Gunning Down Homeless Cats
Two of our staff members represented over 14,500 of you who signed our alert to protest the Oakland cat massacre at a Zoom meeting held on February 25, 2021 by the East Bay Regional Parks District (EBRPD) Board. It was only a preliminary hearing before the full board vote, but it was where people concerned about the issue were asked to direct our energies. While the Board declared a temporary moratorium on shooting cats, in two posts on December 10, 2020, it will not verify if that moratorium is over as of the recent meeting but before a final full board vote. It plans to adopt a formal policy next, but it wants to be allowed to continue killing if it decides it’s necessary.
The meeting was packed with people and groups overwhelmingly giving testimony in favor of never resorting to gunning down cats, but the Board members seemed to have their policy made up before their lopsided presentation, gave distorted and misleading cherry-picked data, ignored logical challenges to their points, and finally refused to take that option of lethal removal off the table.
The members also pretended as though if live box trapping failed, they would have no other recourse than to kill cats (though not directly - it will once again hire the brutal wild animal killing department of the USDA - Animal Services which gasses animals to death in mobile gas chambers among other horrific practices).
The only good news is that the Parks District is currently working with Oakland Animal Services to live trap cats in sensitive areas. The shelter has assured everyone involved that it has no current overpopulation of cats, so they will not be killed.
In fact, a cat was just returned to a guardian after a yearlong absence, just this week, because the shelter scanned for a microchip and found one. If EBRPD had taken the 18 cats to shelters that it gunned down instead, some cats with guardians could have been reunited rather than killed.
However, we must be vigilant. Using the USDA/APHIS Wildlife Services is not new for EBRPD. There is a contract between the Port of Oakland, EBRPD, and USDA Wildlife Services to kill cats, red foxes, raccoons, skunks and possibly gulls and ravens at the Hayward Regional Shoreline. The stated plan was to start implementing the contract on January 1, 2020 and continue for two years until December 31, 2021. We are aware of an email that explicitly stated that the USDA was also instructed to follow the moratorium until the Board addressed the issue on February 25, 2021. That date has passed, but we have not been able to get an answer if that moratorium is still in place for the USDA and other "external agency partners” or if the killing service has returned to killing animals at the Shoreline.
Then there is a report, sent to Doug Bell (Wildlife Program Manager for EBRPD) on 4 December 2020 (4 days before the Dan Noyes' exposé aired) that details all cat killings between January 1, 2018, and October 31, 2020 that the USDA’s Animal Services directly killed.
The best news to date besides the shelters helping to trap and place the cats seems to be that an activist has tracked down where shooters have been dispatched to Parks in the past by the USDA, including Hayward. She received confirmation that no shooting of cats is currently going on. We will be closely following this issue. Please stay tuned.