Free-Roaming Cat Management Policy Update


Full Board of Directors to Review Revised Policy at Future Board Meeting

On Thursday, February 25, 2021, the East Bay Regional Park District’s Board of Directors Natural & Cultural Resources Committee reviewed the District’s Free-Roaming Cat Management Policy and staff's recommended updates. The Committee voted unanimously to recommend that the updated policy be considered by the full Board of Directors at a future date.

The Park District values all animal life. The updated policy is intended to protect wildlife and also help prevent the abandonment and feeding of cats in Regional Parks. Cats deserve to live in safe, loving homes, not wild parklands.

The policy update is supported by local municipal animal shelters who expressed appreciation for the Park District’s efforts. Their February 23, 2021, letter to the Natural & Cultural Resources Committee stated, “When we reached out to EBRPD staff to offer support for cats or other animals in EBRPD parks following the tragic deaths of the cats we were gratified our outreach was met with an immediate and robust willingness to work in partnership toward a shared goal for protecting wildlife while also respecting the rights of cats.” Full Letter Supporting Draft “Free-Roaming Cat Management Policy"

EBRPD’s policy is also consistent with the American SPCA policy, which states, “Lethal control may be employed only as a last resort to alleviate suffering, protect human life or ensure the survival of an endangered species.” ASPCA Policy Position

“Feral and abandoned cat colonies are a problem in many Regional Parks that threaten the survival of numerous endangered species,” said Kristina Kelchner, Assistant General Manager of Acquisition, Stewardship, and Development. “We need the public’s cooperation and support in not abandoning or feeding cats in parks. Cats threatening wildlife in sensitive areas is completely preventable.”

EBRPD takes seriously its mission to protect wildlife in its parks and is legally required to remove predators from areas where listed endangered species are found. More than two dozen endangered species live in our regional parks and shorelines.

To protect endangered wildlife, Park District rules and regulations do not permit abandoning or feeding cats. Park visitors found abandoning or feeding cats in parks are subject to citation and fines.

“The Park District understands the public’s concern regarding lethal removal of feral and abandoned cats,” said Kelchner. “The recommended policy update requires collaboration with local municipal animal shelters with the intent of removing cats safely for care by animal shelter partners, with lethal removal as the absolute last resort if trapping or collaboration efforts fail.”

The Recommended Policy Update includes:

  1. Formal collaboration with local animal services agencies and shelters, including quarterly meetings, to help trap and remove feral and abandoned cat colonies found in Regional Parks, particularly within protected shoreline habitats.
  2. Increased public education to inform the public about the importance of keeping cats out of sensitive habitats and preventing the abandonment and feeding of cats, including signage, brochures, and social media. The Regional Parks Foundation is interested in funding public education efforts.
  3. Lethal removal as a last resort.
  4. Increased transparency and reporting, with required annual reports.

Related Documents:

Local Municipal Animal Shelters Letter Supporting Draft “Free-Roaming Cat Management Policy”

ASPCA Policy

Feb 25, 2021, NCR Committee Meeting Staff Report and Draft Policy

Feb 25, 2021, NCR Committee Meeting Presentation

Dec 11, 2020 Letter to the Community Regarding Temporary Suspension

Dave Mason, Public Information Supervisor