Saturday, January 12, 2019

UPDATE: A blog post from yesterday with additional information.

The blog post was titled,

Attention Lake Worth: How to take on the problem of feral, roaming and out-of-control ‘community’ cats.

Before we get to yesterday’s post there are several additional matters worth mentioning and worth noting here in the City of Lake Worth.

Domestic cats should always be kept indoors. And walking a cat on a leash is the preferred method when taking a cat outside. For example, here is a news report by WPBF (ABC25) demonstrating how it’s done. Pet cats should never come in contact with wild or feral cats.

There is an effort now to promote more shade trees in this City which is a wonderful thing. And it would be a wonderful thing to attract more birds and native animals to these trees and canopies. But until the issue with cats is settled once and for all the trees will attract birds and the birds will attract cats which is why so many have given up bird feeders. Just making it easier for the cat.

Back in May 2015 The Palm Beach Post editorial board and reporters Eliot Kleinberg and Wayne Washington were on top of this important topic and that started the big debate about whether or not TNVR is effective.

If you don’t know what TNVR is, learn more about that below.

And if you’ve been following the news since 2016 it looks more and more as if Mother Nature has come up with its own solution in the meantime.

If you happen to have a number of stray cats in your neighborhood or community and you happen to see something that sort of looks like a dog — but you’re not sure if it’s a dog or not — what you probably saw was a coyote. And if it was a coyote you won’t have a cat problem for long. Coyotes are exceptionally good at hunting cats.

However, one must NEVER FEED COYOTES!

Coyotes have a tremendous fear of humans. So much so they are very difficult to spot and have developed strategies to hide in plain sight. They only hunt at night and rest/sleep during the day. The coyote is here to stay. They have been spotted in the Florida Keys and reported south of the Panama Canal. Extremely adaptable in urban environments, coyotes do not compete with pet dogs and tend to avoid them to not draw attention.

However, the same does not go for pet pigs and pet goats. Coyotes will attack them so be aware. And a fence is not enough. Coyotes are very, very smart. Learn more by clicking on this link.

Recently it was reported someone is shooting cats with a pellet gun west of I-95 in this City. This is happening in and nearby a mobile home park. Mobile home parks are private property!

The City does not manage or control mobile home parks but does provide essential services such as trash pickup. If you are a resident in a mobile home community and you have issues with roaming and feral cats you need to notify the management of your mobile home community immediately. Then management can then deal with the situation as they see fit. Marching to City Hall will not help but if you call a TV station ahead of time you just might get lucky and be interviewed on TV.

For those of you interested, there are four mobile home parks within the City limits. One is east of I-95 and the other three are west of I-95.

Now. Without further ado, the blog post from yesterday. . .

Do you have a cat problem?

There are better ways to solve the problem than grabbing a weapon or firearm. If you didn’t know, PBSO has a big problem with people going around shooting things.

And each day there is news about cats in the press and news media makes it more and more likely Dustin will show up at the City Commission meeting next Tuesday at 6:00. So please keep that in mind.

For those of you who are new, or recently-new residents, several years ago this City had a very big problem with cats. It was a serious, sometimes rancorous, and very long public health and public safety debate. There was the pro-cat faction vs. the anti-cat faction. Neighborhood meetings were called, community outreach educating the public about cats, the City Commission got involved and so did the County Commission.

Yes. It was a very big deal.

Now we discover from WPTV reporter Ryan Hughes that someone near the Palm Beach Mobile Home Park (located west of I-95 off Boutwell Rd.) is shooting cats with a pellet gun. If you have a cat problem, or think you have a cat problem, a weapon should be one of the last things you consider. Please continue reading to learn what those options are.

Because hunting and killing iguanas — within a strict set of guidelines is legal — maybe someone thinks that culling cats is legal too. No. It’s not. And it could be someone is raising chickens nearby. Cats, just like coyotes, are big fans of fresh chicken. Raising chickens, whether for eggs or any other reason, is strictly forbidden within the municipal limits of Lake Worth. Learn more about iguanas and chickens at the end of this blog post, in the section “Worth Noting”.

This City of Lake Worth has a lot of issues to tackle. So before cats become a major problem in this City once again let’s re-examine some major points.

The public needs to be reminded now and then: Do not feed feral and roaming cats! Instead call the County’s Animal Care and Control (see below). A small ‘community’ of cats can turn into a very big problem as we learned back in 2016–2017. And that spurred a very long and interesting debate that may become a big topic once again: “Does Trap, Neuter, Vaccinate and Release (TNVR) work?”

That’s for you to decide. Read more about TNVR a little later.

If you spot a ‘feeding station’ and an increased number of cats in the neighborhood or community contact Palm Beach County Animal Care and Control, call 561-233-1200 or 561-233-1212. Contact the City’s Code Enforcement Dept. too and ask if there is anything they can do to help.

Several years ago when cats were a vexing problem the Neighborhood Assoc. Presidents’ Council was very helpful in getting the City and County involved. See a lot of cats around? Contact your local neighborhood association and see how they can help. Found a cat and want to try and find it a home? Contact the Peggy Adams Animal Rescue League.

Every cat let outside the home must be spayed/neutered, vaccinated for rabies and other feline viruses.

The problem of feral and roaming cats was once a regular topic on this blog, especially as it relates to the devastation of our native bird populations (see “Worth Noting” below) and human health concerns. Just prior to Hurricane Irma in 2017 that was preceded by a lot of “cat-dumping” from evacuees leaving the barrier islands. For a while after that storm the cat problem was terrible.

Prior to Irma when cats were a major problem in Palm Beach County the editorial board at The Palm Beach Post chimed in. Here is an excerpt which brings up the topic of TNVR:

That [TNVR] sounds like the perfect solution, except that it’s not really. Even well-fed cats retain their hunting instinct, and continue to kill significant numbers of wild birds and animals. One study found an outdoor domestic cat is capable of killing 60 birds and 1,600 small mammals in an 18-month period.

There are so many species of animals that are vulnerable to predation by house cats: ground foraging brown thrashers, oven birds, palm warblers and water thrushes; tiny tree frogs and green anolis; marsh rabbits and Florida mice.

While TNVR theoretically should cut down feral cat populations, several studies have shown that they rarely do. [emphasis added]

In May 2016 the Lake Worth City Commission got involved in the form of a Palm Beach County proclamation. Here is an excerpt:

"WHEREAS, Section 125.01, Florida Statutes, authorizes the Board of County Commissioners of Palm Beach County to adopt ordinances to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the citizens and animals of Palm Beach County"

and. . .

"WHEREAS, in order to reduce the overpopulation of cats, which are euthanized every year at alarming rates, the Board has determined that all cats must be spayed or neutered by four months of age unless certain exemptions apply; and
WHEREAS, spaying and neutering all cats by four months of age, before they are sexually mature and able to reproduce, will prevent unintended breeding and unwanted litters of kittens; and
WHEREAS, the Board recognizes the need for innovation in addressing the issues presented by the overpopulation of cats and, to that end, it recognizes that there are often community members providing care for cats that have no apparent owner"

and. . .

"[T]o amend provisions related to hearings before special masters; to shorten the time in which the Division must hold an animal impounded when an owner is involuntarily unable to care for the animal; to amend regulations pertaining to trapping animals and to make other changes necessary for the efficient operation of the Division and in the best interest of the citizens and animals of the county."

In conclusion: If you happen to spot anyone shooting or hunting cats, or any animal for that matter, do not hesitate. Call 911 immediately or stay anonymous and contact Crime Stoppers: You may be eligible for a reward:

For Crime Stoppers: Call 800-458-8477.

Have questions or concerns about the use of firearms or any other type of weapon in this City or west in suburban Lake Worth? Then please contact PBSO District 14: click on this link.

Information “Worth Noting”:

Once again. Raising chickens, aka, “The Urban Chicken”, is not legal in the City of Lake Worth. A very timely reminder: Health risks and concerns related to raising chickens in urban environments.

The 2018–2019 iguana infestation was big news in the Sun Sentinel (one of the top news stories in 2018), The Coastal Star, and other press outlets but incredulously this news has yet to be reported in The Palm Beach Post.

For more information about the devastation of Palm Beach County’s native bird populations, e.g., the Florida Scrub Jay, click on this link.