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On behalf of the East Bay Regional Park District Board and staff, we understand the community’s concern regarding the recent removal of feral cats from protected habitat at Martin Luther King Jr. Regional Shoreline. We have received much correspondence from the public on this issue and will be reviewing our practices and policies of our Wildlife Management Program, as we have a legal responsibility to protect endangered or listed wildlife species to help avoid the extinction of these valuable resources.
Yesterday (Thursday, December 10, 2020), I directed the temporary suspension oflethal feral cat removal practices by staff in our parks until the protocol can be discussed openly and transparently with the Park District Board of Directors. The occasional use of dispatching practices for the removal of cats to protect sensitive and protected species is the exception and not the rule and only happens when other options such as trapping are unsuccessful.
I urge the public to not abandon or feed animals of any kind in or nearby the regional parks. Release or feeding of animals in the parks is illegal, and violators can be cited!
Martin Luther King Jr. Regional Shoreline, located near the Oakland Airport, is a sensitive ecological area and a stop along the Pacific Flyway where thousands of birds annually nest, including several protected species: Ridgway’s rail, California black rail, least terns, burrowing owls, and the salt marsh harvest mouse. The California Ridgeway rail is located only in the San Francisco Bay Area, with only 900 breeding pairs estimated to be left. The California black rail is listed as a threatened species due to the loss, destruction, and degradation of their brackish and saltwater wetland habitats. It is one of the smallest rail species in the world. Both species are protected under the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Moving forward, we commit to providing more public education about the threat cats pose to protected species at risk from extinction. We also commit to working more closely with Oakland Animal Services and some of their affiliate rescue and shelter organizations: Hayward Animal Services, Berkeley Animal Care Services, Friends of the Alameda Animal Shelter, City of Fremont Animal Services, and Tri-City Animal Shelter to assist in the removal of cats from regional parks.
We need the public’s assistance in keeping predatory cats out of all regional parks. Domestic cats don’t deserve a life in the wild. Protected species that the Park District works tirelessly to conserve do not deserve to be hunted by domesticated cats.
We invite you to learn more about wildlife management and the impact of feral and abandoned cats.
Finally, please never leave or feed cats in parks – it is illegal, and you can be cited! By working together, endangered species and feral cats can continue to thrive…separately.
East Bay Regional Park District General Manager