The abundant and diverse assortment of birds, mammals, reptiles, and invertebrates that dwell in the regional parks is an integral part of the ecology of the San Francisco Bay Area and an aesthetic natural feature of the parks that visitors greatly enjoy.
The District is responsible for the protection of all wildlife, including animals that are state and federally listed as rare, threatened, and/or endangered, and others that are of local concern. Certain additional species, whose specific habitat requirements limit their population size and distribution, may require special management to reduce the potential for isolation or loss of the population. The District manages animals that are not native to the region or are feral (domestic animals that have returned to a wild, untamed condition) to minimize conflicts with native species.
How can you help?
- Please do not abandon pets in your parks. This includes fish, turtles, rabbits, cats, ducks, dogs, etc. If you can no longer take care of your pet, please contact your local animal shelter. View the list of local animal shelters.
- Please do not feed wildlife or any animals in your parks. When wild animals are fed, they lose their fear of people and become aggressive and dangerous to park visitors. They are also much healthier eating natural food items.
- When hiking or picnicking, make sure to dispose of garbage in appropriate receptacles.
- Take only pictures, no collecting in the parks - Leave No Trace Principles.
- Drones are prohibited in East Bay Parks, visit the Enjoy Don't Destroy page for examples of harm caused by drones.
- Enjoy watching wildlife from a distance - use binoculars and report sightings:
- Look for volunteer opportunities - Doc Quack's Wildlife Volunteers.
- Stay on trails - take a look at our Trail Courtesy page.
- View Safety Tips for Hiking Near Grazing Animals.
- Read about Dogs in Parks - we are proud to be one of the most dog-friendly organizations in the nation, but we need dog owners’ help to keep parks and trails safe for everyone.
- View the Enjoy - Don't Destroy page to learn what happens when people stray off hiking trails, walk on sensitive areas, release fish, turtles, or birds, or feed coyotes and feral cats.
- View the NatureCheck report - a science-based, landscape-scale assessment of the ecological health of native wildlife within East Bay Stewardship Network partner agency lands.
Consequences of feeding and abandoning cats and other domestic animals in parklands
Sometimes well-meaning park visitors believe they are giving an animal an opportunity for living a good life, but the reality is that domestic animals and pets released in the parks cannot fend for themselves and often starve, fall victim to diseases, or become prey to larger animals. In addition, introduced domestic animals often compete with native animals and cause disruptions in the food web.
The District is committed to protecting endangered wildlife and is especially concerned about four shoreline species: the California least tern, California Ridgway’s rails, western snowy plovers, and salt marsh harvest mice. If these birds and mice were widespread and common, we wouldn’t be as worried, but these species have lost about 95% of their tidal wetland habitat and are all listed as either threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act.
The District’s rules and regulations do not permit free-roaming cat colonies on District property. Feeding cats does not stop them from hunting - a cat’s instinct is to hunt. They will eat what you feed them and still hunt birds, mammals, and other wildlife. In some of our shoreline parks, cats can impact ground nesting endangered or threatened birds like western snowy plovers, California least terns, Ridgway’s rails, and mammals like salt marsh harvest mice. Cat food left at feeding stations attracts rats, and potential bird and small mammal predators including skunks, raccoons, and opossums.
The East Bay Regional Park District is working with local animal shelters throughout the East Bay to safely relocate and rehome free-roaming domestic cats found in parks. Below is a list of shelters near you:
- Free-Roaming Cat Management Policy (PDF), Adopted June 15, 2021
- Cat Policy - Board Meeting Presentation (PDF), June 15, 2021
- Cat Policy - Staff Report (PDF), June 2021
- Wildland Management Policies (PDF)