Texas Bird Lover On Trial For Cat Felony

Jim Stevenson is the founder of the Galveston Ornithological Society and is an avid bird lover. He also is set to stand trial this month for a felony cat murder.

A jury may decide if Stevenson acted within his rights when he shot a feral cat that was preying on a bird.

It comes down to the feral cat versus bird debate. Stevenson struggled with the question if feral cats are pets or pests.

“They see it as a choice,” said Stevenson. “Does Jim shoot the cat or not shoot the cat? But that’s not the choice,” he said. “It’s a choice of who dies, the cat or the bird. By acting or not acting, I had to choose who dies.”

The incident happened in November 2006. Stevenson drove to the beach that was 15 minutes from his house. He saw some piping plovers, which are endangered birds, sleeping. A limping cat was about to come up on the birds when Stevenson appeared, and the cat escaped into the darkness.

He went home and went on the Internet to research Galveston’s city code. The code requires pets to have tags, and all pets are prohibited on the beaches. Texas penal law made it a crime to kill animals, but only those “belonging to another.” Stevenson felt like this cat that he saw on the beach was not someone’s pet because there were no tags and it was on the beach.

The next morning, Stevenson got his .22-caliber rifle, loaded into his Ornithological Society van, and decided to go cat hunting.

He quickly spotted the same cat under the bridge. He rolled his window down, put the rifle barrel on the edge, and shot at the cat. The cat dropped from the shot, and at the same time, Stevenson said he heard “spewing of profane language” from the bridge.

The profane language came from John Newland, a toll collector. Newland ran out and screamed at Stevenson. Another toll collector called the police. Newland jumped in his truck and chased down Stevenson.

Stevenson was met by four police cars on the beach.

Newland is the main witness for the prosecution. He claims he is the owner of the cat that Stevenson killed. Under Texas law, killing someone else’s animal without permission can result in a two year prison sentence.

The state’s case depends on if they can prove the cats under the bridge are Newland’s pets.

Newland spends most of his days after his work shift ends with the feral cats under the bridge. He gives them food, and he said: “Nobody else takes care of them. I’ve got to think of them as my cats.” He buried the cat beside a pillar and marked the grave with paper flowers.

He has names for all of the cats. Newland said he doesn’t vaccinate or license the cats, and the only cats he gets spayed or neutered are the ones he can actually catch.

“They’re leery of those traps,” he said. “That’s the daddy. He’s the one I’d like to fix, but I can’t corner him. Worse than bin Laden. They’ll probably kill a bird. That’s just a cat’s instinct. But all I’m doing is feeding some homeless orphans.”

The assistant district attorney said she is certain a jury will agree that Stevenson killed Newland’s cat. She said she perceives ownership as being care, custody and control.

Stevenson’s lawyer said that people who feed pigeons can’t claim that they are their pets. But the assistant district attorney replied those people don’t always feed the same pigeons.

Stevenson’s lawyer asked how “a person like Jim Stevenson, who has based his life on the preservation of birds” can be accused of any kind of cruelty.

Newland replied: “I don’t shoot owls and hawks that kill my kittens. It doesn’t work that way. He’s got no right to go out and just shoot any creature.”

Stevenson said he has own definition of animal cruelty: “Turning a house pet loose in the wild.”

Source: Wall Street Journal

(Thanks Stefani)

52 Responses to “Texas Bird Lover On Trial For Cat Felony”

  1. Amanda says:

    What a ba*****!!! Sounds to me he just wanted an excuse to shoot something. Also seems he shot a cat that wasn’t doing anything at the time he killed it. There is no need to kill them, he could have just chased the cat away.

    He needs to realize that this is how nature is. Birds kill bugs and worms and cats kill birds. Feral cats don’t just kill things for the fun of it, they kill for food. I feel for the birds being endangered, but there is always a way that doesn’t involve killing any animals.

    Maybe he should do something more constructive with his life like stopping HUMANS from making species go extinct like the Chinese killed off the white river dolphin and there is currently a North African lion that is nearly gone.

  2. pat says:

    Mr. Stevenson had no right to kill the cat. He had several alternatives, and chose exactly the wrong thing to do. The Texas justice system cannot allow self-appointed wildlife managers to take these sorts of actions.

    While it’s true that feral cats do pose a threat to endangered birds, the bigger threat comes from a disasterous loss of habitat caused by indiscriminate development. The human presence is much more dangerous than any individual feral animal.

    If Mr. Stevenson is truly interested in protecting birds, he’d be much more effective by participating in programs that humanely reduce the number of ferals… adoption of abandoned animals, CNR programs, etc. And he can devote some of that angry energy to stopping greedy developers and the local governments who facilitate them from destroying wildlife habitat. All he’s done here is dirty the reputations of those who care about wild birds and do legitimate work to protect them.

  3. Lynne says:

    Well said, Pat.

  4. Lynne says:

    How different this man’s solution to a feral cat “problem” than the story below about the construction worker who found a kitten at the construction site.

  5. Sharon says:

    “i had to choose who died.” sounds like something a Texan would say. The people in this state make me sick.

  6. Genevieve says:

    I imagine that Piping Plovers are prey for dozens of predators, not just feral cats. I have read about what birders do in other states to protect Piping Plover nests - volunteers guard the nest sites 24 hours a day! The article does not say whether or not the birds were nesting. If they were not nesting, couldn’t Mr. Stevenson have just scared the birds away to protect them from that particular cat? Why are feral cats thought of differently from other wild animals that prey on birds? It seems to me that feral cats are a species of wild animal that happen to have domesticated brothers. Feral cats exist because of human irresponsibility. Which, to me, does not mean that feral cats have no right to exist. It is a sad situation all around.

  7. Stefani says:

    This really disturbed me.

    The whole reason the piping plover — and so many other bird species — are endangered in the first place is human development and loss of habitat.

    If you look at the FWS site, http://www.fws.gov/northeast/p.....rview.html
    you can see that human activity accounts for 3 of 5 listed threats to this population.

    Yet even FWS elsewhere on its site has pamphlets the purpose of which is to further stir up hysteria over the possible threat feral and free roaming domestic cats pose to what is left of the population.

    Killing EVERY free roaming cat would not save this, or any other, species whose habitat is being destroyed by our wreckless and insatiable, ill-considered greed. Moreover, the instinct to do so comes from the very same short-sighted approach: WE HUMANS are unwilling to change, so we try to control nature and other animals to save what little is left after our destruction has taken it’s toll. It won’t work. WE’VE got to change.

    If he really wanted to “take out” the species responsible for the plover’s precarious plight, he’d be playing sniper and picking off homo sapiens. Which of course, is unthinkable. (And the A-HOLE would be in jail!!!!!)

    He is just a man looking for an excuse to take out his rage on a poor creature, and he found his excuse to shoot cats. He’s cruel and stupid. He should be protecting habitat and fighting against further development. Instead he shoots lame cats. That’s not going to help the plover, and deep down inside he knows it and doesn’t care because that’s not why he’s really doing it.

    The problem is, there are too many of us, and the quality of our species’ gene pool has degraded until stupid people like this can get away with moronic behavior.

    Stefani
    The Toonces Project
    http://www.TheTooncesProject.com
    “Is Your Pet Safe at the Vet?”

  8. Veery says:

    I support Jim Stevenson 100%! The feral cat problem is completely out of control and people keep fueling the problem by feeding them. Cats are INDOOR PETS and should stay inside. Critically endangered birds have so many problems already, why should we allow feral cats to attack them? KEEP CATS INDOORS! Those birds are FEDERALLY PROTECTED and we must do something. Jim Stevenson created a big stir by what he did and now we are all aware of this major problem and should do something to fix it.
    Is that any life for a cat? To be scrounging outside for scraps…people who feed feral cats are mean and cruel. They are the ones who should be arrested. The ones who allow their cats to run wild and the ones who feed and fuel the feral cat population, they are the real criminals.

  9. highnote says:

    IF this cat was limping like he said then he probably could not have even caught the bird. I believe in having feral cats around. They keep the mouse population down! I guess so many people forgot about the black plague and how the cats saved them.
    After all a cat was once a wild species and was not domestic.
    It is a fact that they will kill to live but they do not just kill birds. More mice then anything. They are only doing what they have to to survive. I agree that these birds have a right to live too but I do not think it is the cat population that is bringing them down. And a cat cannot suck eggs and they do not eat them. There are a lot of people that do not like cats and I think this guy was one of them. Just his way of killing another one. He had no right to do it. It is up to the state to control such things.

  10. pat says:

    Veery, let me see if i understand your position. Mr. Stevenson appoints himself the official guardian of the local bird population, arms himself with a deadly weapon and kills an animal on public property. He does not contact the local animal control or the local wildlife management agency beforehand; he simply makes this decision unilaterally and carries it out. And that’s ok with you.

    Well, it’s not ok with me. I don’t like vigilantes. They’re so sure that they’re right and that they can do anything they want without any respect for the law. Whether you agree with him or not, he IS a criminal, and he should be dealt with as such.

    And as for your order to KEEP CATS INDOORS, I never cease to be amazed at the number of people with no expertise and certainly no authority who think it’s perfectly ok to tell the rest of us what to do.

  11. ellie says:

    As others have pointed out more eloquently, this person had other choices, other ways to try to protect the birds.

    The cat was simply doing what is instinctive–looking for food. It’s the natural course of things, even if it’s not pleasant. What this person did was simply premeditated murder.

    Of course feral cats can be a problem, but it’s a problem created by people. Killing one poor cat did not solve the problem or protect the birds–it was only an outlet for this guy’s anger. I hope he’s convicted and sentenced to the maximum.

  12. Don Earl says:

    Since providing habitat for Jim Stevenson eliminates habitat for birds, Jimmy should have shot himself. Will Jimmy eventually start thinking people are the real problem and buy a bigger gun?

    Jimmy doesn’t belong in jail. Psychopaths belong in hospitals where they can’t hurt themselves or others.

  13. catmom5 says:

    I have to agree that the biggest danger to any wild animal is MAN! Feral cat colonies, neutered, vetted and released, will naturally decline in numbers, even when they are fed by the colony managers. This guy is wrong all the way around. (And I love the birds who come to my feeders ~ but I also love the squirrels and raccoons and possums, etc) AND I ALSO LOVE MY CATS. Only one goes out and that’s when I’m outside with her. If she had to survive on what she caught she’d probably not make it! The hawks here kill more birds than the cats do!!

  14. Carol Johnson says:

    Does this “hero” get a gun and go after the human hunters that are responsible for the extinction of many species because of human greed and ignorance that destroys habitat??

  15. Judy says:

    veery you are a very uninformed person, you know nothing about feral cats. Feral cats only exist because they were dumped off by a human and then they have the nerve to have kittens that verry is how you get a feral cat. Trap neuter and release is the only program that works to control the feral cat population. By killing them more will come as long as humans exist and dump animals. Please inform yourself before spouting off about killing cats.

    No animal should be killed because they exist, this cat was not even attacking the bird. This man seems to be very disturbed to me and I agree he should be in a padded room.

  16. Jenny Bark says:

    I agree with all of you but Veery. This man needs to be in a hospital first & then jail. I feed the birds & cats do come around & I go out & chase them. They know me & I think they laugh at me but they leave for awhile. They don’t get hardy any birds but they shure do get the moles. The hawks get my birds even if I am standing right outside. I would never hurt the cats (that’s how I got my kitty) and any body that does is sick. It doesn’t sound much like anything human to kill a 10-20 lb. cat, he is sick period.

  17. Charlene says:

    We have been fortunate to have 3 former ferals in our lives, particularly because they have taught us so incredibly much. While all our furkids have been rescues, it appears that most of them have been domesticated most of their lives. These always-domesticated kitties will often bring any little lizard or frog who happens onto our screened porch inside to play with and, if not retrieved in time, the little critters are played to death. (Once adopted, our furkids are never allowed freedom of the great outdoors because we fear for THEIR safety.) HOWEVER, the 3 former ferals would not consider harming another living being, and always demonstrate great disdain for the domesticated ones who do so. It’s an incredibly cheap shot to blame non-humans for the unspeakably cruel acts that only a selfish human could commit. Stevenson belongs in an institution where he can never harm another living being, and he needs to learn that compassion is indivisible.

  18. Don Earl says:

    Some additional observations:

    Ferals typically hunt at night, and generally prefer rodents to birds.

    They tend to be very shy around people and spend most of their daylight hours in hiding.

    Their territories normally cover about 1 square mile and it would be fantastically unlikely for anyone to spot the same cat two days in a row.

    It would be even more unlikely a cat spotted on the beach would be conveniently found under a bridge the next day.

    A .22 is a fairly useless firearm, used almost exclusively for hunting small animals. There’s really no other reason to own one.

    The claim the guy went home to check the law about hunting cats sounds bogus as far as a single incident is concerned.

    My take is this Jimmy person bought the .22 to hunt cats and makes a regular practice of doing drive by cat shootings. I wouldn’t be surprised if everyone in his club does the same thing. I’d also be willing to bet Jimmy is being prosecuted as the result of a whole bunch of cats, pets and ferals both, turning up shot by .22s like Jimmy’s.

    Forget the mental hospital. Find Jimmy a nice jail cell where he has a large hairy backed roommate named Bubba who thinks Jimmy is pretty.

  19. Traci says:

    “people who feed feral cats are mean and cruel.”

    Gee, and shooting them is kindness.

    Please educate yourself on well-run feral projects with manage colonies properly with feeding and vet care as well as TNR.

    You are the cruel one. Friggin troll.

  20. KarlaSanDiego says:

    Yep Veery. You better get with the program ignorant one. You obviously have no compassion for animals. Should we start hunting and shooting dogs now too? Don Earl is right….that guy should have shot himself.

  21. pat says:

    “Find Jimmy a nice jail cell where he has a large hairy backed roommate named Bubba who thinks Jimmy is pretty.”

    Don Earl, you have a talent for the well turned phrase!

  22. EmilyS says:

    so lets see: cats have the right to trespass on my property and damage my plants. They have the right to harass and kill small birds and mammals with impunity (PLEASE DONT give me any nonsense about cats only kill to eat, or cats only kill rodents… I’ll invite you to meet my neighbor’s perfect predator). They have the right to attack my dogs. They don’t have to wear tags to identify their owners. They can’t be simply caught, and animal control won’t bother.

    A dog harassing/killing wildlife or livestock can be shot on sight.

    But anything a cat does is ok.

    no, I don’t get it.

  23. Amanda says:

    Veery is such a troll, don’t feed the troll people.

    I see human destruction everyday in my own town. My town keeps cutting down more and more wooded areas to build more doctors offices, retirement homes etc. The deer, foxes, skunks, racoons etc that lived in these wooded areas are now being spotted more and more in town and residential neighborhoods.

    We never had any deer in my neighborhood(which is one block down from main street) until last Fall when I saw a beautiful Buck walking along our trees in the backyard. Come winter we saw Does in our yard, mom even had to go out to look for one that just barely got hit on the rump by a car coming across main street. Never have we had a dead deer on our street till then, driving to the video store, there was a Doe laying dead on the side of our street.

    We once had a coyote in our yard as well and we have a family of skunks and possums living under our house! Two times now my dad has gone out to call our cats and skunks have come running up to him(of course he high tails it outta there! LOL)

    Cats are animals, animals are meant to enjoy the outdoors just like any other creature including us horrible humans! Why should cats not be allowed to run free in their backyards and lay in the grass? (That is what they did before humans came around and domesticated some of them) Some cats enjoy just being indoor cats, some enjoy being only outdoor cats and some enjoy being both indoor/outdoors. The difference between feral cats and domesticated cats is that feral cats hunt for food, not pleasure. They usually try to kill instantly and start eating their meal.

    Humans kill more animals every day just by driving cars than cats do by hunting for food. People like Veery probably think nothing of it when they see a dead animal(s) on the side of the road every day they drive(especially on the interstates.) I on the otherhand always say a prayer for them and shed a tear because I hate to think what that animal went through if it didn’t die instantly. We should start spaying and neutering humans before we start saying other animals are the problem.

  24. Traci says:

    “A dog harassing/killing wildlife or livestock can be shot on sight.

    But anything a cat does is ok.

    no, I don’t get it.”

    So you agree shooting them is the answer?

  25. EmilyS says:

    Traci: there isn’t any lethal solution you would support, am I right?

    It doesn’t matter how much damage cats do, they should be supported in their feral or stray livestyle. Is that your position?

    Is there ANY other animal (including humans) that have the rights cats do?

  26. Traci says:

    Answer my question first.

  27. pat says:

    emilys, you must live in a very interesting place… armies of cats devouring all your plants, pouncing on everything that moves, torturing your dogs and then flashing diplomatic visas when animal control arrives.

    if you don’t like cats, just say so, instead of making up all sorts of ridiculous “reasons” why you want them dead.

  28. Veery says:

    You are all good at name-calling and being rude to other people who have opinions different to yours. Since I am so uninformed I decided to put a few links on here so you all can find more ways to hate on wild birds.

    http://www.abcbirds.org/cats/
    http://home.hiwaay.net/~keiper/indoors.htm
    http://cats.about.com/od/indoo.....ndoors.htm
    http://www.town-cats.org/indoors.html
    http://www.hsus.org/pets/pet_c.....index.html
    http://www.co.winnebago.il.us/.....ndoors.pdf

  29. Birdfreak says:

    I find it rather odd that when someone posts a differing opinion they are considered a “troll” and that these “wonderfully informed” people resort to name-calling and hate-mongering.

    FERAL cats are the only thing being discussed here, not pet cats. There is a big difference. To “be informed” would require you to read both sides of an argument. There are hundreds of sources on feral cats (and house cats left outside) eating migratory (protected) birds.

    Hawks (meaning, bird-eating hawks like Cooper’s and Sharp-shinned) do indeed eat birds as part of their natural diet. Cats often hunt beyond what they actually eat.

    Feral cats DO NOT only feed at night and I see the same dozen cats DAILY.

    Human development has caused lots of habitat destruction, but yet again, this is not the issue - just unprotected feral cats vs FEDERALLY protected birds.

    And for the person (people) that said about Mr. Stevenson should have shot himself, I seriously hope you don’t believe that. Talk about being hateful and cruel.

  30. Traci says:

    He is being called a troll because he apparently agrees 100% that everyday citizens should just take animal management into their own hands and go around shooting down suspect-to-them animals.

  31. 8tiggers says:

    Take the cat and the bird out of the equation.

    That leaves you with a guy who discharged a firearm on public property. What if the toll operator had come out from under the bridge at that moment? The rifle may be small caliber but that doesn’t mean that it can’t do some damage — especially if it hit soft tissue. The guy should be in jail on that charge alone.

  32. Birdfreak says:

    Everyday citizens are one of the best sources for wildlife management and conservation. I belong to several bird conservation organizations and together with hundreds of individuals have saved lots of land from development and complete destruction as well as many other efforts like pollution clean up.

    Feral cats are considered pests to nearly any wildlife management organization on the planet, especially when they effect endangered species.

    Perhaps this wasn’t the best way to go about dealing with a situation, but it certainly garnered a lot of attention about an ongoing problem - the feral cat problem.

  33. Traci says:

    “Perhaps this wasn’t the best way to go about dealing with a situation, but it certainly garnered a lot of attention about an ongoing problem - the feral cat problem.”

    Sounds like the rationalizing of a crime. That seems to be an in-thing these days…

  34. Kira says:

    In my opinion - uneducated as it may be - there is no reason to kill a feral cat, even if it lives in the same territory as an endangered species. Instead of aiming to kill, couldn’t this man have set a humane cat trap near the bird’s nest, or used a tranquilizer gun? Almost anything other than taking its life would have been a better solution. There are just so many other resources he could have tapped. Feral or not, cats can feel pain and loss, I am sure that kitty’s feral cat family misses him.

  35. Stefani says:

    That man has no proof that every cat he has shot is a feral who never belonged to anyone. This distinction between feral cats and pet cats is not clearcut. If a pet cat escapes (they do sometimes escape), and for whatever reason cannot or does not go home — at a distance, how can you tell the difference between him and a pet cat?

    He shouldn’t be killing them under any circumstances, feral or not. But in any case, one of these days, he is going to kill someones pet. And I hope they come after him hard, with every legal means available to them.

    Stefani

  36. Leigh-Ann says:

    The ancestors of our house cats, Felis Silvestris, still roam wild in Europe, and look an awful lot like many of our common tabby cats. Felis Silvestris existed on every content except Antarctica, and has been in around for hundreds of thousands of years. Are true ferals in North America really any different than the wild Felis Silvestris of Europe?

    We really do need to distinguish between ferals and stray cats, because I think one could argue that ferals are as much a part of our wildlife as raccoon or hawks. The feral cat/bird relationship is a natural part of the food chain, and always has been. In fact, there was no problem with bird species and extinction until humans started to interfere, so perhaps Jim Stevenson’s finger is pointed in the wrong direction.

    As for the assertion by someone that feeding ferals is “cruel”, how does that even make sense?! Feeding them eliminates all hunting of birds in response to hunger, and as feeding tends to be done by TNR advocates, it also ensures that the cat population doesn’t unnecessarily increase.

    Sadly, my parents are pro-bird, anti-cat people, and no amount of reasoning on my part will convince them that feral cats are not consciously living in the field behind their home to ruin their birdwatching fun. When a hawk kills a sparrow my mother thinks, “that’s sad, but oh well”, and when a cat kills a bird she wants to poison the cat. Luckily she’s too afraid of getting in trouble to do anything illegal, but it’s pretty sickening how cats can turn normal, loving people into murderous freaks.

  37. pat says:

    Veery, I looked at several of your links, and nowhere did I find any statement advocating shooting cats, feral or otherwise. What I found were some civilized arguments for keeping domestic cats indoors. That’s not what you did here, and that’s why people were rude to you.

    It’s ok to point out that cats are a problem to wildlife. If you really want to do something about that, it’s probably not the best strategy to alienate cat owners and those who care for ferals by making inflammatory comments about shooting cats, and ordering people around. Did you really expect that to be at all helpful? Did you honestly think the reaction to be “oh my yes, she’s right, Jim Stevenson is a saint and i’m bringing my horrible cat into the house right this minute and never letting him out again.” Of course not. You wrote an inflammatory post and you knew very well what the reaction would be.

    Strolling into a thread about a guy with a messianic complex who summarily executes animals and saying that’s a good thing and yelling KEEP YOUR CATS INDOORS is hardly an appropriate way to foster a productive discussion about ways to reduce the adverse impact of domestic cat attacks on wild birds. Whether you like the label or not, you did what trolls do, and that’s why you were called a troll. If you want a civilized discussion, you have to choose your words a lot more carefully than you did.

    A lot of people and organizations advocate keeping cats indoors, and they have their reasons, but in the final analysis, it’s up to me to decide if their reasons are compelling enough to deny my pet the feeling of the earth beneath his feet, and the breeze in his fur, and all the other pleasures of being outdoors. I’m certainly not prepared to base that decision on the opinion of someone who states they support cat hunting.

  38. Lynne says:

    Would it be okay if the guy shot a fox that was stalking the bird?

    (Just for the record, I hope they throw his butt in jail)

  39. Stefani says:

    Re: ” cats have the right to trespass on my property and damage my plants”

    ??? Trespass?

    Birds trespass on your property all the time, and poop on your step, and nest in your gutters, etc etc. I don’t see you shooting them.

    The wonderful thing about both cats AND birds is that they don’t read property deeds, they don’t know what a property line is.

  40. beatrice ware says:

    Don Earl seemed to be the only one on track here. And to the woman speaking about Texans, this man is from Florida. No one here has claimed him. The WSJ article was written as fact. These were Jim’s “facts”. Let’s get off blaming the unwanted cats, and blame the man whose story is full of holes. This is a man who stated for the record on the internet that he has shot cats before. Let it open some dialogue on dumped cats and the problems they face and cause, but realize that this is the long thought out and revised version of a man caught red handed shooting a gun around a public roadway.

  41. Bailey Jean says:

    Okay, if the toll booth worker “owns” the cats, why does he not have them properly licensed with proof of current vaccinations? “Care, Custody and Control” are the hallmarks of ownership per the ADA. I think most of us would agree that feeding every other day isn’t proper care and that he is not in control of any of those cats.

    I love cats - got one of my own - but this whole case reeks of an ADA who is looking to forward her career at the expense of common sense and rationality.

    And now - let the name calling commence, as I know that’s what’s coming from you lot.

  42. Larry says:

    Hold on! According to the article, it sounds like Mr. Stevenson killed bin Laden. Finally!

  43. oliver says:

    Hey, unlike foxes, house cats are not native to North America. They are not part of “nature” and ” the cycle of life”. If humans were never created, then a cat never would have even seen any of the birds found in the U.S. They are domestic and invasive and the only good cat is an indoor cat. Foxes naturally eat the those birds, but they are kept in their place by more dangerous natural predators. Cats have no natural predators. Occasionally, a cat is picked off by a coyote, but that is rare and those few are easily replaced by other breeding cats. Plus, there are MILLIONS of cats!!!! There are people who spend their entire lives making a living by breeding fancy cats! The birds, on the other hand, are endangered and getting rarer every year. there are probably only a few thousand or so of those birds in the wild in texas. The loss of 1 cat to protect an ever-decreasing population of birds seems fair to me. Plus, some guy feeding a cat under a brigde is NOT ownership. I think this guy is completely inoccent.

  44. Justice says:

    What a load of …. the string of posts (except Veery’s) up until I stopped reading ’cause I couldn’t stop laughing!

    Justice was served, the jury was deadlocked. Jim Stevenson killed a cat that he thought was going to kill a Piping Plover. Cats are estimated to kill between several hundred million to one billion birds a year (American Bird Conservancy). Cats do NOT belong outdoors, even well-fed cats will kill birds just for ’sport’. Cats have caused bird extinctions around the globe, especially those introduced to islands. There is nothing natural about their roaming free in North America.

    I have a cat, and she is a well-loved INDOOR cat. Feral cats should be eliminated. Period.

  45. Piping Plover says:

    Cats killing birds are not “nature taking it’s course.” Cats are a non-native predators brought here by humans long ago. Simply put, the birds it was stalking belong here, cats don’t. Of course, I feel sorry for the cat if it suffered, but native birds are suffering big-time by our ignorance.

    How many birds can 60 million stray cats kill in a year? I have no cats, yet I have “eliminated” more than a dozen from my yard this year alone. Not to mention more than a dozen road killed cats in the same amount of time within a mile from my house. And I wonder “Why don’t I see Eastern Towhees anymore?”

    What’s even sicker is while birding Texas in spring and seeing a beautiful Painted Bunting or Scarlet Tanager or other migrant bird sitting on the ground, unable to fly another foot after crossing the Gulf of Mexico and knowing how many of these exhausted birds are being killed by “non-native” cats.

    This is an ecological disaster that needs to be taken care of. But some people seem to think that cats are more alive, or higher creatures, than birds. This is false! I used to feel that way, too, until I began watching and studying birds. I never knew the toll cats were taking on our “native” wildlife until then. It’s staggering and scary to think we may soon lose Piping Plovers, Kirtlands Warblers, Black-capped Vireos, etc.

    Everybody should have to take some type of ecological course in school and study the local, native wildlife. With some education, they would understand the reason behind the shooting and know that he’s not a cat killer, but rather a defender and lover of native animals. Stevenson saved many lives by removing the “non-native” cat.

    I’m tired of the bleeding heart cat lovers out there who think it’s nature for cats to kill birds. Isn’t also nature for dogs to chase deer? Where I live the law says dogs can be shot for it. I doubt he would have shot a fox. They are native and part of the wildlife chain. Endangered, native animals should always take precedence over non-native, severely overpopulated ones.

    In addition, any cat owner who lets their cats run free and kill native birds, which are protected by Federal law, should be charged with a felony. Guaranteed, if Stevenson would have shot the plover rather than the cat, he would be doing jail time. Newland should actually be the one on trial for letting the (alien) cats hunt native birds.

  46. kim says:

    A major, legitimate wildlife group published a study 2 yrs ago that lists the threats to birds–habitat loss pollution–cats aren’t even statistically noticable–Interpretation: if ALL the cats were gone tomorrow, it would have no impact on the bird numbers.

    Bird numbers are down, up to 90%, in some places, already due to habitat loss, climate change. And the worse bird loss is yet to come due to global warming.

    Seems to me the bird people, which have been the most worst of the cat haters for centuries, way before anyone said there were ‘too many’ outdoor ownerless cats, are just riding the bird loss hysteria to rile up the rest of the cat haters out there, in their quest for a cat-free world.

    Bird people have proclaimed a global ban on all outdoor cats, even your cat in your yard, unless you put it in a cage with a top, so a bird can’t fly into your yard. Because, even the loss of one bird to a cat is not acceptable ( acutal quote from prominent bird website).

    Cat people are very different than bird people. Look at these blogs, numerous since the Stevenson trial: All this talk of killing, poisoning, calling cats criminals for walking on plants to pooping in gardens, and calling for their deaths…what about birds, pooping on our windshields, on our sidewalks, taking down airplanes, causing the avian flu that killed 50 million people 80 yrs ago, and preparing to do the exact same thing again…still are cat people joking about putting about poison bird seed, mass extermination of birds…

    In the absence of any science, and to not admit their personal hatred of cats, they lie, and lie, and lie…and, notice they never mention, the victims of cats predatory instinct— NEVER EVER— the word, rodent, mouse, rat…only ‘wildlife’.

  47. kim says:

    Are some animal species superior to others?

    cats are the second to primate species as the most emotional being of the animal family, as well as the second most intelligent. Anyone whose seen a mother care for her kittens doesn’t have to be told this–and outdoor ownerless, stray, feral, cats, they’re genetically the same, with the same emotional and intelligence.

    Cat guardians, please know that there are neighbors like these people, using this undocumented number… 60 million bird deaths a year — to justify “eliminating” cats from their yards, how? by luring it in with bait that wafts around to your yard. ( doesn’t 60 million turn out to be 1 for every 3 cats, and most undoubtedly were sick, or fell or pushed out of the nest–yes, baby birds are pushed out of their nest by the mother and by the siblings; they do that commonly).

    Birds are ranked somewhere around spiders and reptiles. Just some facts.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/scie.....s.taxonomy

    www.msnbc.msn.com/id/11236682/

  48. Piping Plover says:

    Kim is obviously an uneducated, bleeding heart cat lover who speaks from the heart instead of the brain and from true proven facts. Participate in some bird studies and you will see the true intelligence of birds. Who taught them where to go during migration, how to return to the same neighborhood or even the same tree after a long winter,
    what route to take, how to build a nest (with no hands), what materials to use, how to recognize intruders eggs, how to lure predators away from their young, how to use tools to break open hard foods or different tools to reach into crevices too deep for their bills, how to survive bitter cold winters, how to talk, etc… And don’t ever tell me they don’t feel emotion! I watched a Gray Catbird cry all day long, with a caterpillar in her bill for hours, after the county came by and leveled the vegetation that held her nest with 10 day old babies. She sat on my fence close to where the nest used to be and balled all day long!!

    Other false statements; if all the cats were gone it would have no impact on bird numbers. Even if each cat in the country only killed one bird per year, if there are 60 million cats, that is 60 million birds gone. Also, most bird watchers love cats. We just believe they belong indoors because of their non-native status. Cats kill even when they’re not hungry. As for the mice and rats cats take; it’s no wonder native hawk and owl populations have plummeted. Cats are helping to deplete their food source too.

    The only thing Kim is right about is habitat destruction. We destroy the land for our homes and businesses and then we bring in non-native predators to kill the wildlife that survived the initial destruction of the habitat.

    Dogs can be shot for chasing deer. What gives cats the right to kill other forms of native wildlife? Whether it’s birds or rodents you think because birds are small, they’re brainless?

    As for global warming; where is your proof of this? Al Gore is the only nutcase believing this. The earth constantly changes, get over it! Oh yeah and go to the archives and find some newsweek articles from the 70″s. We were supposedly entering an ice age at that time. All scientists can do is speculate. And they all have different opinions. Do the research. And besides, most of the country was covered by glaciers 10 thousand years ago. I suppose we caused them to melt as well. And besides global warming could help the birds. Instead of only being able to reproduce when it’s warm, longer warm seasons could mean more broods being hatched to replace those that have been lost to unnatural causes.

    When you claim birds are pushed out of the nest by mother and siblings, please explain to the readers why! When this happens it is usually related to food availability. The youngest or weakest sometimes needs to be eliminated to ensure survival of the rest of the brood. It could mean losing the whole family if they can’t find enough food. This strategy has worked for millions of years.

    And Kim, where did you find the fact about being between spiders and reptiles? Is this supposed to be the level of intelligence or where they are placed on the evolutionary scale of when they came into existence? Nobody, not even scientists can claim what animals feels more emotion than others. Until animals can speak for themselves, we’ll never know. So far, birds are the only ones who can speak.

  49. cat&bird lover says:

    I agree that humans are the cause of the feral cat problem, but in this case, the guy was probably just trying to do the responsible thing and he doesn’t deserve to be in prison for 2 years.

    It must have been a very tough decision for an animal lover, to decide between the lives of an endangered bird family, and a cat, who is only loose because of some irresponsible human abandoning it. Still, with a billion birds in the USA killed each year by cats, it would be hard for a person with his knowledge and love of ornithology to do nothing when he saw a bird family in obvious danger.

    Poor Kitty, and poor birds too…people have a lot to answer for.

  50. Janet says:

    It’s called nature and the survival of the fittest. It’s been going on since the beginning of time. Cats are only responding to their innate instinct to hunt. It’s horrible that this man felt like he had to kill a cat to protect a bird…he’s is mean-spirited and should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

  51. Florida Hunting Guy says:

    What’s up with cats? why is it that people are so concerned with them? Is there any difference when people are out there butchering cows, pigs, chickens, and shooting deers for fun (well, that seems to be like it now, so)?? Maybe their cute! Cute animals gathers sympathy from people… :)

  52. Birding Uk says:

    Any follow up to this story?


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