Cal State Long Beach Is Using the Presence of Coyotes as a Pretext in Order to Get Rid of Its Feral Cats
"They are spayed and neutered. Why would you kill perfectly healthy cats just to save two coyotes?"
-- Leslie Abrahams
The long awaited showdown between feral cat caretakers and coyote advocates finally has arrived and the sprawling three-hundred-twenty-two-acre campus of California State University in Long Beach (CSULB) is providing the improbable venue.
On July 10th, the administration gave caretakers of the school's approximately one-hundred-fifty cats forty days to remove them. Should they fail to comply, the cat-haters within the administration presumably are prepared to call in their own exterminators to do the job.
In order to demonstrate that it means business, the college has backed up its dispossess edict by sending in a wrecking crew to demolish a feeding station near Earl Warren Drive. Die Sturmtruppen tore down a shed and removed a fence that had provided the cats with their only protection from the coyotes.
In addition to being petty and mean-spirited, this act of unprovoked violence was undertaken in order to inflict as much trauma on both the cats and their caretakers as possible. Moreover, it has necessitated that the caretakers stand vigil at night in order to protect the cats.
Any lingering notion that the intelligentsia are any more reasonable, decent, and humane than garden variety fascists and hoodlums was dispelled by the university's primitive behavior. The administrators also have set a poor example for their thirty-six-thousand students as to how problems are dealt with and disputes resolved. As Rousseau argued in the Emile, one teaches by example.
Ostensibly, CSULB is arguing that the sixteen feeding stations scattered about campus are attracting coyotes who in turn are imperiling the safety of children and infants who attend day-care and summer youth camps. So far, the coyotes have not attacked any children or adults; they have, however, eaten at least seven cats.
For those familiar with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey's (PA) roundup and extermination of the cats at JFK, the university's warped logic has a familiar ring to it. In that instance, the PA vociferously argued that feeding the cats was attracting birds which in turn were jeopardizing the safety of incoming and departing jets.
What the PA neglected to inform the public is that the airport is situated on the periphery of a wildlife reserve that teems with birds. Nevertheless, the ruse has proven itself to be sufficiently plausible in order to cost the cats their lives. (See Cat Defender post of November 5, 2007 entitled "Port Authority Gives JFK's Long-Term Resident Felines the Boot and Rescue Groups Are Too Impotent to Save Them.")
"The reason to do this is to protect the campus community, first and foremost," Toni Beron of the university's department of agitprop swore to the Long Beach Press-Telegram on July 11th. (See "Curbing Campus Wildlife.")
It was however Beron's outright dismissal of the idea of giving the coyotes the bum's rush that revealed her true prejudices. "I would say the long-term solution is that we need to address the issue of the feral cat situation on campus," she told the Press-Telegram.
C'est-a-dire, the school has been wanting to get rid of the cats for a long time and now, thanks to the presence of the coyotes, it has found a convenient rationale in order to justify its dirty work. Since the felines and their ancestors have been an integral part of the college since its inception in 1949, the proper course of conduct for the administrators would be to provide them with protection from the coyotes and allow them to remain.
After all, the school has a large, highly-paid contingent of police officers with time on their hands. Instead of goofing off all day and night and making time with the coeds they could be put to work guarding the cats and children.
The university has, after all, gotten a free ride for the past half-century in that the cats are cared for by an army of volunteers from the community and student body who pay for their food, water, shelter, inoculations, and sterilizations. The cheapskates at CSULB have never spent a lousy nickel on them.
The university's edict has placed both the cats and their dedicated caretakers in a no-win situation because relocating feral cats is both expensive and difficult. First of all, a new habitat must be procured for them and they need to be confined in some manner for at least a month before they can be released. Otherwise they will attempt to return to their old haunts.
Homes for feral cats are few and far between and shelters are already chock-full of domestic cats on death row. Consequently, just about all of the cats removed from CSULB will be killed.
The general public might have some interest in adopting the Siamese, Russian Blues, and Himalayans but that is about all. It is even doubtful that barns could be procured for the remainder.
"Cal State Long Beach has put an execution order out on these cats, basically," Leslie Abrahams, who has been feeding them for the past twenty years, summed up the dire situation in a nutshell for the Press-Telegram in the article cited supra. (See photo at the top of the page of her standing guard at one of the cats' feeding stations.)
On that point, Beron is only too happy to agree. "And in these circumstances, there is a high likelihood that there would be euthanization because there isn't a place for them," she told the Press-Telegram.
Abrahams is not quite ready to throw in the towel, however. "I'll chain myself to the kitties if I have to," she told the Press-Telegram on July 13th. (See "Their Cause Is for the Paws.") "They're not going to kill our kitties."
Equally determined to save the cats is caretaker Dorothy Burstein. "I don't want to give it up," she told Fox-11 News of Los Angeles on July 12th. (See "Time's Up for Feral Cats on Cal State Long Beach Campus?") "It means too much."
Toward that end, a rally attended by more than two dozen of the cats' supporters was held on campus on July 13th. (See photo above of demonstrator Lucinda Anskin.) The caretakers also have retained local attorney Henry Salcido in order to seek a court injunction if necessary to prevent the school from killing the cats.
Not surprisingly, the university is being backed up in its efforts to get rid of the cats by the California Department of Fish and Game (CDFG) which has erroneously advised it that the coyotes will pack their bags and vacate the premises as soon as the cats are removed. "Don't give them a reason to want to be in your neighborhood," Steve Martarano, a spokesman for the agency, told the Santa Cruz Sentinel on July 24th. (See "Local Coyote Problems Lack Easy Answers.") "They'll move on. They'll find their own food source."
Abrahams scoffs at such silliness. "Coyotes are all over the neighborhood," she told the Los Angeles Times on Bastille Day. (See "Turf Battle at Cal State Long Beach Pits Cats Against Coyotes.")
Moreover, the injustice inherent in the university's misguided directive has her incensed. "They (the cats) are spayed and neutered. Why would you kill perfectly healthy cats just to save two coyotes?" she complained to the Velvet Coffin in the article cited supra.
Even Duke Rescola, an editorial writer with the student newspaper, is astute enough to see through the CDFG's lies. "Cats are not the campus's only available food source for coyotes," he wrote in the July 16th edition of the Daily 49er. (See "Coyotes, Cats, Children Could Benefit from Grownup Campus Decision Making.")
"The campus is rife with squirrels, raccoons, opossums, birds, and open trash cans -- all are part of coyote diet," he went on to say. "Removing the cats will not remove coyotes, nor will exposing the cats to other predation."
Like any sensible person, Bill Dyer of In Defense of Animals knows what should be done. "If they're concerned about the safety of people, get rid of the coyotes," he told the Los Angeles Times.
Gregory Castle of Best Friends Animal Society in Kanab, Utah concurs. "Cats always seem to get the blame. If there truly is a danger to children from coyotes, why not just remove the coyotes?" he wrote in the July 19th edition of the Press-Telegram. (See "Feral Cats Aren't the Real Problems.")
"Humane trapping and relocating the coyotes far from human activity is a normal and customary way to handle a situation when the very different worlds of wildlife and humans collide," he continued. "If a bear wandered onto the campus would the university still advocate cat removal?"
He is not, however, convinced that coyotes are a threat to children and cites statistics compiled by the CDFG which show that on the average the carnivores bite only one person per year in California. That is in marked distinction to the three-million children that are bitten by dogs each year nationwide.
Nevertheless, several children were bitten by coyotes earlier this year in the Inland Empire (Riverside, San Bernardino, etc.) and these types of attacks are bound to increase in frequency as interaction between the two groups grows. (See Cat Defender post of December 4, 2007 entitled "Grieving Widow Risks Her Life in Order to Save Cosmo from the Jaws of a Hungry Coyote in Thousand Oaks.")
Relocating coyotes is, however, every bit as problematic as relocating cats. First of all, they do not have anywhere to go since much of their natural habitat has been destroyed by ranchers, farmers, and developers. Natural disasters, such as wildfires and mudslides, have taken their toll on the species as have eradication campaigns mounted by wildlife officials.
For instance, in 2006 Wildlife Services, a division of the USDA, spent a staggering $108 million in order to kill 1.6 million wild animals. Included in the carnage were eighty-seven-thousand coyotes.
"We have one arm of the federal government trying to protect wildlife while a different arm is doing its best to eradicate the same animals," Jeff Ruch of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) said in an October 25, 2007 press release. (See "Federal Government Killing Record Number of Carnivores.") "How much sense does that make?"
Despite having blood all over their filthy hands, it goes almost without saying that wildlife biologists are tickled pink not only that CSULB has decided to give the felines the boot but, more importantly, that coyotes are killing them with impunity.
"As far as feral cats are concerned, coyotes are doing us a favor," Carl Lackey, a wildlife biologist with the Nevada Department of Wildlife, told the Reno Gazette-Journal on December 28, 2007. (See "Area Sees Spike in Coyote Sightings.") "Feral cats are the biggest predators of songbirds in the state. It's a big problem."
Lackey's colleague with CDFG, Don Richardson, likewise puts all the blame on cats and their caretakers. "In San Francisco you have people who go out and feed feral cats living in the park. That is one of the absolute worst things you can do," he told the San Francisco Chronicle on July 22, 2007. (See "Coyotes Commonly Under Foot in Cities.") "To a coyote, they end up having a huge population of feral cats to eat and if they don't catch the cats, they can go and eat the food people leave for the cats."
Although the CDFG has a hands-off policy when it comes to coyote attacks on cats, it readily exterminates those that attack dogs and humans. For instance, on July 15th of last year it shot and killed two coyotes in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park after they had accosted dogs being walked on leashes. (See Cat Defender post of August 28, 2007 entitled "TNR Programs, Domestic Cats, Dogs, and Humans Imperiled by Wildlife Proponents' Use and Abuse of Coyotes and Fishers.")
Perhaps more significantly, Richardson neglects to mention that individuals were feeding the coyotes in Golden Gate Park and that is almost certain to occur at CSULB as well. In fact, Tim Grobaty, an ailurophobic columnist for the Press-Telegram, stated on July 23rd that he was contemplating doing just that. (See "Cats Versus Coyotes on Campus.")
Washington State has an almost identical policy to that of California although its appears to be based in part on stinginess. "Our policy call is not to control coyote populations or have the state control coyote populations, otherwise we'd need a staff of five-hundred people," Captain Bill Hebner of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) told King5-TV of Seattle on September 21, 2006. (See "Coyotes Observed to Get Bolder.")
Of course, after two children were bitten by the animals in the Seattle suburb of Bellevue in April of 2006 the WDFW immediately hunted down and killed a pair of coyotes. That was in spite of the fact that officials were not even certain that they were the ones involved in the attacks. (See Cat Defender post of October 2, 2006 entitled "Coyotes, Cheered on by Wildlife Officials, Join Raccoons in Killing Cats and Dogs in Washington State.")
"From a public policy standpoint, coyotes are not going away and we need to learn how to live with them," Hebner pontificated to The Herald of Everett on September 18, 2006. (See "Coyotes Growing Bolder.") If that is indeed his department's policy, it should be applied across the board and dog-owners and parents with small children also should be forced to live with coyote attacks just as is the case with cat-owners and caretakers.
More importantly, if wildlife biologists expect cat owners to accept the presence of coyotes in their back yards, parks, city streets, and on college campuses they should be willing to accept feral cats as well. The fact that they are totally unwilling to reciprocate proves that their grand design is to kill cats and that coyotes are merely one of their modi operandi.
Jim Nelson, a wildlife professor at Unity College in Maine wants all feral cats to be rounded up and killed on the spot. (See Morning Sentinel of Waterville, May 26, 2008, "Feral Cats Dangerous to Endangered Species.")
Brian Barton, a park ranger and bird-lover employed by the California Department of Parks and Recreation in Lake Tahoe, wholeheartedly agrees. (See Record Searchlight of Redding, March 23, 2008, "Are Cat Colonies a Legal and Ethical Part of Nature?")
So, too, does Fred Gehlbach, a biology professor emeritus at Baylor, who admits to hunting and trapping feral cats. (See Waco Tribune-Herald, July 2, 2007, "Release Feral Cats? Good Grief.")
In one breath, old Gehlbach declares that "sound science" gives him an unconditional right to kill cats. Based upon such morally vapid logic, the mere possession of a gun would give anyone the right to commit an untold number of homicides just so long as he or she could produce one so-called scientific paper, no matter how contrived, in support of their position.
When it comes, however, to the difficult task of distinguishing between feral and domestic cats Gehlbach utters the thoroughly unscientific non sequitur: "I know the look." It is a good thing that he is now semi-retired otherwise he would be either laughed off campus or committed to an asylum.
One of the most notorious cat-haters ever to goose step through this wicked old world is Michael Hutchins of The Wildlife Society (TWS). On July 25th, he released a press release fully endorsing a plan by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the Navy to slaughter two-hundred cats on San Nicolas Island. (See Cat Defender posts of June 27, 2008 and July 10, 2008 entitled, respectively, "United States Fish and Wildlife Service and the Navy Hatch a Diabolical Plan to Gun Down Two-Hundred Cats on San Nicolas Island" and "The Ventura County Star Races to the Defense of the Cat-Killers on San Nicolas Island.")
In fact, if Hutchins were ever allowed to have his way, there would not be a cat left living on the planet. "TWS has a history supporting and encouraging the humane elimination of feral cat colonies and has consistently opposed the establishment of managed feral colonies, the public feeding of feral cats, especially on public lands, and release of unwanted pet or feral cats into the wild," the release states. (See "The Wildlife Society Supports Removal of Feral Cats from San Nicolas Island.")
Earlier on July 16th, this latter-day Hitlerite released a broadside in support of the National Park Service's (NPS) plan to exterminate axis and fallow deer living at the Point Reyes National Seashore park in Marin County, California. (See "The Wildlife Society Supports National Park Service's Non-Native Deer Management at Point Reyes National Seashore.")
He also has dismissed opposition from the Humane Society of United States as being based upon "emotion" whereas NPS' plan is allegedly based on "science." Since he goes out of his way to make doubly certain that everyone knows that he has a Ph.D., Hutchins is acutely aware that outside of a laboratory there is not any such thing as science per se. Even then the findings of such experiments are dependent upon the integrity and competence of the scientist conducting them.
What Hutchins and his fellow wackos within the wildlife lobby are attempting to fob off on the public are their own hatreds and prejudices thinly disguised as science. Besides, scurrilous missives sent to undiscriminating newspaper editors and hackneyed press releases are hardly what one would expect of supposedly highly educated individuals. In fact, any halfwit can dash off an "I hate cats" letter.
More to the point, science is only a tool which can be either used or misused. It should never be allowed, however, to trump either morality or politics. Even in Francis Bacon's scientific utopia of Bensalem, depicted in his book The New Atlantis, science is kept under strict political control.
Quite obviously, anyone capable of penning such hate-filled diatribes and taking the morally repulsive public positions that Hutchins does has gone completely off the rails and is totally beyond redemption. Moreover, he is living proof that any moral degenerate and imbecile can finagle a doctorate out of the corrupt-as-hell universities.
As far as it is known, statistics are not kept as to the number of cats that are eaten by coyotes each year. Moreover, the task of compiling such numbers has been compounded by the introduction of fishers to the northeast by wildlife biologists with the explicit purpose of having them prey upon cats. (See Cat Defender post of July 19, 2007 entitled "Up to Their Old Tricks, Wildlife Officials Reintroduce Fishers to the Northeast to Prey Upon Cats and to Provide Income for Fur Traffickers.")
Owls, eagles, hawks, and other birds of prey also kill their share of cats and kittens. (See Cat Defender post of July 31, 2006 entitled "Fifteen-Year-Old Cat Named Bamboo Miraculously Survives Being Abducted and Mauled by a Hoot Owl in British Columbia.")
Based upon press reports and other anecdotal evidence, however, the number of cats eaten each year by coyotes in the United States must be in the thousands. The hardest hit areas appear to be the West Coast plus the states of Texas and Massachusetts. Cats are sans doute being killed elsewhere but the capitalist media apparently cannot be bothered with even recording their deaths.
Coyotes also are killing cats en masse in Alberta and British Columbia. (See photo above of a coyote strolling through Port Coquitlam with a cat in its mouth on March 1st.)
As for the situation at CSULB, it is too bad that administrators are incapable of following the sterling examples set by Hofstra and Stanford. (See photo above of one of Stanford's cats.) On the Palo Alto campus, an ambitious TNR program has reduced that school's feral cat population from five-hundred to a few dozen. (See The Stanford Daily, July 24, 2008, "Cat Network Helps Stanford Strays.")
Instead CSULB has chosen to emulate the cat-killers at Central Michigan and Eastern universities. (See Cat Defender posts of September 11, 2006 and February 12, 2007 entitled, respectively, "Selfish and Brutal Eggheads at Central Michigan University Target Colony of Feral Cats for Defamation and Eradication" and "God-Fearing Baptists at Eastern University Kill Off Their Feral Cats on the Sly while Students Are Away on Christmas Break.")
The dilemma facing the cats' caretakers at Cal State Long Beach is two-fold. They must first of all find the political and legal resources in order to force the school to rescind its eviction edict.
In fact, the Press-Telegram reported on July 30th that the administration already is considering allowing some of the cats to remain but to restrict their feeding times. (See "CSULB Abandons Plan to Remove Feral Cats.") The details of this compromise have not been finalized and the school still insists that it will make the final call regardless of the wishes of the cats' caretakers.
Should it ultimately prove impossible for the cats to remain at CSULB, the caretakers must then play for time so as to save as many cats as possible. Relocating and finding homes for one-hundred-fifty cats is a daunting task and it is thoroughly unreasonable for the school to have given them only forty days to do so.
Furthermore, it certainly is not any coincidence that the college wants to be shed of both its cats and their caretakers before the students return in September. Although a number of them already have ponied up for the Fall Semester, organizing a tuition strike would be worth a try.
Like Gates, Buffet, and Mr. Goldfinger, the administrators and toffs at CSULB love only money. Take it away and they start behaving like junkies going through withdrawal.
In the meantime, it is incumbent upon the caretakers to provide the cats with around-the-clock protection from the coyotes. Admittedly, that is asking a lot of dedicated cat-lovers like Abrahams who already spend thousands of dollars per year of their own money on the cats but it nonetheless must be done.
Cats have a myriad of enemies in both high and low places and therefore must be protected. The deplorable situation at CSULB is just another cross that cat-lovers must bear.
Photos: Diandra Jay of the Press-Telegram (Abrahams and Anskin), Andrea Wiebe (coyote), and Stanford Cat Network (campus cat).