Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Cats showing up at wildlife refuge

Officials think owners are dropping off unwanted pets
The boat landing at the bridges to Hilton Head Island has become a dumping ground for unwanted cats, say wildlife officials, who fear the felines could threaten the bird population at Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge.
The Hilton Head Humane Association is attempting to relocate the feral cats, but it’s having a hard time trapping them because someone is giving them food and water, said Franny Gerthoffer, the association’s executive director.
To combat the problem, officials with Savannah Coastal Refuges say anyone caught releasing cats at the refuge will face fines. Jane Griess, a project leader for the coastal refuge, says the cats pose a threat to painted buntings and other birds nesting on the island.
Griess said people should stop leaving food and water for the cats.
“We’re not trying to be the bad guy here at all,” Griess said, “but there are some places that are appropriate for cats, and a national wildlife refuge is not that place.”

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