Sunday, June 5, 2016

New York moves to dismiss speculative allegations against cats at Jones Beach

Alley Cat Allies applauds the State of New York's motion to dismiss a complaint filed by the American Bird Conservancy (ABC) in New York federal court.

The complaint alleges that the New York Department of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation (NYS Parks) was in violation of the Endangered Species Act by allowing feral cats to continue to live in Jones Beach State Park, where a group of piping plover birds also lives.

New York pointed out that ABC had not shown any causal nexus between the presence of cats at Jones Beach and impacts on the piping plover. The state called ABC's allegations that there is any connection between the presence of the cats and alleged impacts on the plovers "highly suspect and unreliable."

Alley Cat Allies President Becky Robinson praised New York's legal brief.

"In pushing back against baseless assertions ABC made about NYS Parks and its management of Jones Beach State Park, New York State is sending a strong message to ABC, to park officials, to city governments, and to cat advocates across the country," Robinson said.

"We hope that the Court will follow New York's request and dismiss this lawsuit. The sooner this is behind us, the sooner the NYS Parks can return its full focus to meeting the diverse needs of all the creatures that live in and enjoy its parks."

Because the piping plover population is increasing, New York argued that "no potential interest of [ABC] is being harmed." New York also took issue with ABC's allegation that removing the cats from Jones Beach would address the alleged harm to the piping plovers, calling any such conclusion "pure speculation."

Numerous studies have shown that such removal efforts are misguided, inhumane, and simply do not work to reduce feral cat populations. As the only national advocacy organization dedicated to the humane treatment of cats, Alley Cat Allies has proven that the only humane method for stabilizing and reducing feral cat populations is through Trap-Neuter-Return, which has been embraced by more than 575 communities.

Contrary to what critics say, New York's Jones Beach State Park is an exemplary success of coexistence and conservation. Thanks to the diligent efforts of NY State Parks, the piping plover population has made an immense recovery since first being listed under the Endangered Species Act in the 1980s.

The number of piping plover nesting pairs and chicks at Jones Beach State Park has been trending upwards over the past several years, with 33 nested pairs and 45 fledges reported during the 2015 Long Island Colonial Waterbird & Piping Plover Survey, showing that the plovers, cats, an array of other animals, and millions of people co-exist at Jones Beach.

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