D.C. Cats & Wildlife Still Under Threat

City agency proposes combination of “non-lethal and lethal control measures” to rid D.C. of cats, geese, and deer.


Back in September, a public hearing was held on a Washington, D.C. plan that falsely blamed cats for the perceived decline in local wildlife. The plan called for making non-lethal community cat programs like TNR illegal, which would result in the round up and killing of cats.

The draft plan was costly, short-sighted, inhumane, and at odds with the values of the cat-loving residents of the District, a not surprising outcome as drafters of the plan were proceeding to a predetermined conclusion regardless of actual facts. Unbiased scientific studies were not included, animal welfare organizations with a mission of protecting cats were not consulted, and true reasons for wildlife decline were ignored. Indeed, only groups hostile to cats were invited to participate in the drafting of the plan, while those who work to protect cats were not, including the Washington Humane Society,-‹ the animal control authority for the District and the agency which carries out the TNR program at no cost to taxpayers.

Despite being flooded with comments against the plan, despite being given scientific studies that contradicted their claims, and despite proof that TNR is being successfully implemented across the country to reduce the number of cats, the drafters of the report were unmoved and are proceeding to a predetermined conclusion. The final report was just released and the drafters still want the cats dead, though they are couching their language by saying they will be “revisiting” the city’s support of TNR to prohibit the release of cats. Where are the cats supposed to go?

Not content to kill cats, they also want deer and geese dead: “The ultimate goal should be to reduce the resident Canada geese population to zero through a variety of non-lethal and lethal control measures.”

The final report is here.

If you live in the District or surrounding metro area, please contact the City Council by clicking here and politely ask them to pass legislation to override and prohibit the proposed lethal response.

We successfully did exactly that in San Francisco a number of years ago. In 1993, for example, following months of research and public testimony, the San Francisco Commission on Animal Control and Welfare voted down a call to round up and kill community cats in City parks based on arguments similar to those made in the DOEE draft plan. In 1997, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors likewise voted unanimously to remove language from the City’s Sustainability Plan—before it was approved as a document for San Francisco’s future—that falsely called cats a major threat to biodiversity and would have led to their round up and killing. And again in 2000, backed by predation studies on four continents (13 studies in Europe, 12 in North America, nine in Australia, and one in Africa) that exonerated cats for the decline in songbird and other wildlife populations, the Board of Supervisors unanimously rejected language proposed by ideologues on the San Francisco Commission on the Environment attempting for the third time to kill cats based on this kind of misinformation.


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