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Federation of New York State Bird Clubs, Inc.

[letter on feral cats]

January 29, 2003

Commissioner Bernadette Castro
NY State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation
Albany, NY

Dear Commissioner Castro:

I am writing on behalf of our organization to express concern over the effects of feral cat colonies on wild bird populations in NY State Parks.

Feral cats, as well as domestic house cats, have a significant impact on wild birds and other small wildlife. Estimates are that free-roaming cats kill hundreds of millions of birds each year. These include common species such as Robins and Mourning Doves, but also threatened and endangered species such as Piping Plovers and those in decline, including Wood Thrushes and Black-throated Blue Warblers.

Many wildlife organizations are involved in efforts to reduce the widespread killing of birds by cats. These include the American Bird Conservancy, the Wildlife Society, the American Ornithologists’ Union, the American Association of Wildlife Veterinarians, the National Audubon Society, and others. A “Cats Indoors” campaign has begun to encourage cat owners to keep their pets inside both for the pet’s health and welfare, and for birds and other wildlife.

Unfortunately, in many areas, colonies of feral cats exist, and are encouraged by well-meaning individuals who feed them and contribute to their continued existence and expansion. These cats can decimate the local population of birds, especially in otherwise protected areas such as parks, which may be an island of bird habitat in a developed landscape.

We applaud the efforts of OPRHP in support of birdlife and its appreciation in NY State Parks and Preserves. These areas provide excellent habitat as well as an opportunity for visitors to observe and learn about birds. Unfortunately, this good work may well be undone by feral cat colonies and feeding stations in or near the parks.

We urge that your office develop policies and procedures to eliminate feeding stations in state parks and to reduce numbers of feral cats in these areas, especially those where endangered or threatened species are at risk.


Andrew Mason
Conservation Co-chair


cc: Ralph Odell, Deputy Commissioner for Natural Resources

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