Sunday, August 9, 2015

The Cost to Control/Maintain the Palm Beach Island Cats (33480)

In this article by Aleese Kopf at the Shiny Sheet there is no mention of bird populations in Palm Beach but they're very meticulous when it comes to their non-indigenous feral cat population. At the end of the article is this information:  
     In addition to spaying and neutering, the group feeds and provides water for the cats and pays their medical bills. Leavitt [President David Leavitt] said the group [Palm Beach Island Cats] goes through 50-60 cases of wet food and 11-13 large bags of dry food each week.
      There currently are 74 colonies on the island, Leavitt said, but locations remain hidden for safety reasons. Property owners give the group permission to maintain the colonies on their sites.
      Leavitt said the organization runs on a $255,000 budget. It receives $110,000 in individual donations, $115,000 from fundraising and $30,000 from grants [emphasis added], Leavitt said.
     The group pays three people a total of $100,000 a year to feed the cats, trap them if necessary and carry out day-to-day operations. Food costs $53,000, fundraising events cost $45,000, and an executive director makes $18,500.
The Palm Beach Post editorial board tried to raise public awareness about the devastation caused by cats but they were not heeded:
     Some 10,000 cats a year are taken in by the county shelter, and only 1 percent are claimed.
     But before [Palm Beach County] commissioners vote to add a TNVR program, they would be wise to remember this cautionary tale. In 1999, Palm Beach County voters endorsed buying environmentally sensitive land. The first property on the list was a 97-acre patch of sand pines and scrub oak on Hypoluxo Road, near railroad tracks. The county paid $4.5 million for it. What made the site so special? It was home to the southernmost population of Florida scrub jays, an endangered species that lives only here, and is unique for its intelligence and family bonding. We say “was,” because there are no more scrub jays on the Hypoluxo Scrub. County environmental managers believe that the last eight birds were hunted and killed years ago — by stray house cats. Because the birds nest in low bushes, they were easy prey for the feline predators. It is a stark reminder of how much damage free-roaming cats can do to native wildlife, not just birds but small mammals and reptiles as well.
The Florida Scrub Jay, image from Wikipedia.