"The cats, to me, are as much a part of this park as the squirrels, the birds, and the people. I don't see them as any more of a threat, a danger, or nuisance than the geese that poop everywhere or the squirrels that get in the garbage and knock everything over."
-- area resident Bessie Lamica
The federal government's all-out war against cats has entered a new phase with the recent decision of the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to get rid of all the resident felines at Lake Sidney Lanier, north of Atlanta. (See photo above of one of the uprooted cats.)
Specifically, between thirty and one-hundred cats living in West Bank Park off of Buford Dam Road in Cumming, Forsyth County, are in the process of being trapped and removed. In order to facilitate their ouster, the USACE last month embarked upon a plan to starve the cats to death by banning their caretakers from feeding them.
"No Feeding" signs accordingly were erected at the park although it is not known if any violators have been arrested and carted off to the clink. (See photo below.)
Assisted by the equally ailurophobic Forsyth County Sheriff's Department, the Corps began trapping the cats on March 28th and turning them over to the Forsyth County Animal Shelter (FCAS). Under the USACE's original plan, the cats were to have been held for seven days and then killed if not ransomed by rescue groups.
Not being big on adoption, the FCAS is a notorious cat-killing factory. For example, on March 31st it listed on Petfinder twenty-six dogs as being available for adoption but only two cats! On April 15th, it was offering to the public only eighteen dogs and one cat.
Under pressure from individual cat-lovers from across the country, the USACE belatedly has relented and is now allowing the Humane Society of Forsyth County (HSFC) and the Georgia SPCA to join in the trapping effort. Tom Wargo of Backyard Sanctuary and the Feral Cat Program of Georgia also are believed to be involved in this project.
So far, sixteen cats have been trapped and removed, but it is unclear what has been done with them. Presumably, some of them are still at the FCAS while the remainder are with either the Georgia SPCA or the HSFC. It therefore is imperative that supporters of the cats vociferously demand that they be protected and well cared for at all times and that their imprisonment be as brief as possible.
"We are looking for help trapping during the hours of 7 and 10 a.m. and 7 to 10 p.m., transportation for the cats to and from the vet and holding locations, as well as volunteers to care for cats and locations for placement," Jill Gooch of HSFC told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution
on April 11th. (See "Cat Compromise: Lanier's Feral Cats Won't Be Euthanized.")
"This is one of the largest combined efforts in Georgia to rescue and save feral cats."
The long-term game plan calls for some of the cats and all of the kittens to be placed in homes while a new outdoor location must be secured for those cats that the rescue groups do not have either the time or the resources in order to socialize for domestic life. Besides a new habitat, feeding stations, shelters, and caretakers must be found for the cats.
Under an earlier arrangement worked out with the Corps, rescue groups were given only one week in order to trap and remove the cats and it is unclear how much longer that deadline will be extended. Much more importantly, neither the USACE nor the rescue groups have speculated about the fate of those cats that will be left behind.
In all probability, the USACE then will resort to violence and have the cats either shot or poisoned. It most likely already has sentenced innumerable kittens to die of starvation and predation by its deliberate selection of birthing season to trap and remove their mothers.
Moreover, this problem is not going to magically disappear overnight regardless of how many cats the USACE either evicts or kills. West Bank Park is a popular and convenient location for irresponsible residents from all over northern Georgia and Atlanta to dump their unwanted cats.
In order to sell its inhumane eviction scheme to the public, the USACE is relying upon the same old discredited lies that bird advocates and wildlife biologists have been spouting ad nauseam.
As Mark Twain once astutely observed, "One of the remarkable differences between a cat and a lie is that a cat only has nine lives."
"From a health standpoint, from a safety standpoint, from a natural resources standpoint, a large colony of cats on a small twenty-eight-acre park that's the most visited recreational area on Lake Lanier, just doesn't work for us," Chris Lovejoy of the USACE told WSB Radio of Atlanta on April 2nd. (See "Lanier Feral Cats Given Reprieve.")
Other than the cats' alleged negative impact on wildlife, Lovejoy ludicrously claims that they carry diseases and attack humans. "The other side is they carry diseases that are harmful to pregnant women. They're a vector for rabies," he proclaimed to Fox-5 of Atlanta in a video on March 29th. (See "Feds Remove Cats from North Georgia Park.")
"Not to mention the fact that there are kids in the park by the hundreds on a holiday weekend, any given weekend, and it just takes one time for that cat to get trapped or penned in some place and it attacks someone."
The editor of Moggies responded on April 13th by pointing out the obvious. "That statement is false. It is humans who spread disease and decimate the wild areas of our world. The Army should know better than to spread stupid lies."
Carmela Quinlan, who over the course of the past four years has trapped and sterilized one-hundred-fifty of the park's cats, quickly disposed of the latter half of Lovejoy's sottise
. "They don't pose a threat to anyone. They're not a threat to humans," she declared in the same video. "They're afraid of humans." (See photo of her below.)
Being thoroughly dishonest, Lovejoy purposefully neglected to point out that visitors to the park do not have any business trapping and harassing cats or any other animals. Furthermore, as the owner and manager of the park, the USACE has a solemn duty to protect the cats from miscreants intent upon doing them harm. Most importantly of all, cats, like all animals, have an unequivocal right to defend themselves when attacked.
If Lovejoy has in his possession any evidence that proves conclusively that homeless cats attack humans without provocation he should reveal it. Otherwise, he should stop telling whoppers.
As far as toxoplasmosis is concerned, it is spread by wildlife as well as cats and also can be contracted from handling meat and vegetables. As he should know, it is only a threat to pregnant women who neglect to wash their hands after changing litter boxes.
Rabies, meanwhile, is rare in cats but quite common in wildlife. Presumably, the cats returned to the park by Quinlan were vaccinated against the disease when they were sterilized. This may not necessarily be the case with cats that are dumped in the park in the future now that the USACE idiotically has outlawed TNR.
To be truthful about it, it is precisely wildlife, not cats, that carry deadly diseases and therefore are a threat to people. "The cats, to me, are as much a part of this park as the squirrels, the birds, and the people," Bessie Lamica, who lives nearby, told WGCL-TV of Atlanta on April 6th. (See "Feral Cats Running Rampant in State Park.")
"I don't see them as any more of a threat, a danger, or nuisance than the geese that poop everywhere or the squirrels that get in the garbage and knock everything over."
Anyone even remotely acquainted with the destructive damage that birds, mice, squirrels, raccoons, and other animals do to crops, food stores, electrical wiring, and other property can readily identify with what Lamica is saying. All of those animals also can carry deadly diseases.
In fact, Mary Cotter who teaches veterinary technology at LaGuardia Community College attributes the disappearance of rabbits from Manhattan's Central Park to a roundworm found in the feces of raccoons. (See New York Daily News, April 1, 2010, "Where Did All the Bunnies Go? Last Wild Rabbit Spotted in Central Park Was Four Years Ago.")
It also has been well documented that wildlife are major polluters of rivers and streams. (See Washington Post, September 29, 2006, "Wildlife Waste Is Major Water Polluter, Studies Say.")
Birds are even more dangerous to humans. Not only do they decimate crops and start forest fires, but their excrement and urine damage automobiles, outdoor furniture, and children's toys. They even poop on top of people's heads!
Much more importantly, they are responsible for spreading influenza and the West Nile Virus. Researchers at Yale University's School of Public Health and the Connecticut Agricultural Station in New Haven last year reported that thirty-eight per cent
of robins carry and spread the deadly West Nile Virus. (See Living on Earth, September 4, 2009, "Robins and West Nile Virus.")
Based upon the self-serving drivel that Lovejoy, bird advocates, and wildlife biologists pass off as the gospel truth, it is precisely birds and other wildlife that should be removed from the environment, not cats. Of course, no cat-lover ever has advocated such a patently immoral scheme.
To put it succinctly, the chances of an individual visiting West Bank Park and getting stung by a mosquito that had contracted the West Nile Virus from a robin are immensely greater than that person getting bitten by a sick cat.
Although the feds, birders, and wildlife biologists do not have an ounce to spare, this case also is about justice. Namely, that these cats have just as much of a right to live in West Bank Park as any other species and instead of defaming and attempting to kill them the USACE should be protecting, feeding, and caring for them.
They were cruelly and irresponsibly abandoned by their previous owners and left to fend for themselves against both human and wild predators. As Quinlan said in the above cited video, "These cats have a right to live. They were here however they got here."
Moreover, Quinlan feels that it is a total waste of taxpayer dollars for the USACE to trap and kill the cats. "Animal Control doesn't do that for free. We're paying for that," she told WSB Radio on March 30th. (See "Plan to Euthanize Lake Lanier Cats.")
"If someone wants to pay for something, pay to have them fixed and stop the overpopulation and control, control (sic)
Lovejoy, however, insists that TNR does not work. "We've trapped cats over the years when the population got somewhat out of control and then reduced the population then we see in a few years later that the population has grown again," he bellowed to WSB Radio in the March 30th article cited supra.
He is, of course, being dishonest again. TNR does indeed work, at least as far as those cats that are sterilized are concerned. It also works for those cats and kittens that are removed and adopted.
It does not stop individuals from abandoning cats but neither will the USACE's trap and kill policies. Much more importantly, managed colonies are a fairer and more humane approach to dealing with homeless cats.
It is therefore paramount that the USACE disclose to the public exactly how many cats it has killed or had killed by its subalterns in West Bank Park over the years. It additionally should be compelled, by court order if necessary, to do likewise in regard to all the other properties that it owns and manages around the country and world.
Included in its humongous portfolio are, inter alia,
another two-hundred-eighty-three lakes and reservoirs, six-hundred-nine dams, and two-hundred-fifty-seven navigation lock chambers at two-hundred-twelve locations.
It also maintains nine-hundred-twenty-six coasts and inland harbors, including those on the Great Lakes, as well as 38,700 acres of wetlands. Plus, it is active in ninety foreign countries.
Most of these locations have resident felines and if they already have not been either killed or evicted that surely is destined to be their fate in the near future unless the USACE is stopped.
Considering its barbaric and dishonest treatment of cats, it is not surprising that the USACE additionally has proven itself totally incompetent to manage water levels in Lake Lanier itself. In 2006, for instance, it was forced to admit that the gauge it was using was off by almost two feet and, as a consequence, the reservoir had considerably less water than originally thought.
In September of 2009 when streams south of the lake were flooding the USACE idiotically continued to release even more water, thus compounding the damage. Based upon that kind of behavior, no one would be really surprised if it turned up at a forest fire with a can of petrol and a box of matches!
Over the years the USACE erroneously has insisted that it had the authority to set aside twelve per cent
of Lake Lanier's water for Atlanta. Finally, in July of last year a federal judge sitting in Jacksonville rejected that claim and gave the USACE three years to either stop this unlawful practice or to seek additional authorization from Congress.
Another option would be for Georgia to work out some sort of a compromise with Alabama and Florida, which also receive water from Lake Lanier. (See Lake Lanier.com, October 1, 2009, "Corps of Engineers on Lake Lanier Fights Criticism" and Wikipedia's article on Lake Lanier.)
Its mistreatment of cats and incompetent, illegal management of Lake Lanier's resources are merely the tip of the proverbial iceberg as far as the USACE is concerned. For example, on November 18th of last year United States District Court Judge Stanwood R. Duval, Jr. ruled that the agency was negligent in its maintenance of the levees in New Orleans which led to so much catastrophic property damage and loss of life in Saint Bernard Parish and in the Lower Ninth Ward when Hurricane Katrina roared through in 2005.
That case involved only four residents and one business owner who were awarded a grand total of $719,698. Other residents of the Big Easy
are likely to follow suit and some experts have estimated that the USACE's potential liability could be as high as $500 billion.
Earlier, its design and operation of a rifle range for the National Guard at Camp O'Ryan in Wethersfield, New York, resulted in lead contamination of not only local wells but the Niagara River and Lake Ontario as well.
With its thirty-four-thousand-six-hundred civilian employees on top of six-hundred-fifty military big shots, the USACE long has been known as a cesspool of glorified welfare bums, corruption, pork barrel politics, and boondoggles. It was, however, its gross mismanagement of the levees in New Orleans that finally attracted the attention of the legislative branch of government.
"American taxpayers cannot wait for another natural disaster like Katrina before we act to improve the safety and security of Corps' projects," United States Senators John McCain and Russ Feingold said in a joint statement released after Duval's ruling. (See About Lawsuits.com, November 23, 2009, "Hurricane Katrina Lawsuit Results in Damages Against Army Corps.")
Absolutely no one should hold either his or her breath expecting any reforms to be instituted at the USACE. After all, looking to America's thoroughly corrupt and mendacious politicians to police the Corps is tantamount to asking Jesse James to make a law abiding citizen out of Billy the Kid.
Nevertheless, it is crying shame that no one in Congress can be interested in investigating the crimes committed against cats by the USACE and other federal agencies. At the top of the list is the United States Fish and Wildlife Service which kills scores of cats with impunity each year. (See Cat Defender posts of June 27, 2008 and May 24, 2007 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 "USDA and Fish and Wildlife Service Commence Trapping and Killing Cats on Florida's Big Pine Key.")
Although it is better known for the millions of wild animals that it systematically exterminates each year at the urging of its capitalist buddies, the United States Department of Agriculture's Wildlife Services also guns down at least twelve-hundred cats each year. (See Cat Defender post of September 15, 2005 entitled "United States Government Exterminates Millions of Wild Animals at the Behest of Capitalists.")
The various branches of the military also have their taxpayer-paid killers who travel both the United States and world hunting down and killing cats. (See Cat Defender posts of November 14, 2006, June 16, 2008, and July 16, 2009 entitled, respectively, "Military Killing Cats and Dogs by the Tens of Thousands as Imperialistic America Attempts to Conquer the World," "Targeted for Elimination by the American War Machine and Cheney's Henchmen, Baghdad's Cats Are Befriended by an English Mercenary," and "Yellow Two Is Shot and Maimed for Life at Fort Hood in the United States Army's Latest Criminal Offense Against Cats.")
Not about to be left out of the cat-killing craze, the National Park Service, probably the U.S. Forest Service, and governmental-run laboratories also kill and torture their fair share of cats as well. No one could even begin to hazard a guess as to how many additional ensanguined feline corpses are hidden away in the closets of other federal agencies.
This widespread antipathy toward cats raises the thought provoking question of whether ailurophobes simply are attracted to the United States Government because of the abundance of opportunities that it presents for them to kill cats and to get paid handsomely for doing so, or are these individuals more or less normal when recruited but then go completely off the rails once brainwashed by their superiors. After all, such uniformity of thought does seem a trifle odd even for as people as servile and sycophantic as Americans.
In that respect the feds' behavior is reminiscent of that of Reverend Sun Myung Moon's acolytes who peddle flowers in Manhattan's Times Square. Totally incapable of either rational discourse or independent inquiry, they simply repeat by rote whatever silliness they have been indoctrinated to believe.
There is one important difference between the two groups, however. With the notable exception of their complicity in the wholesale slaughter of bluefin tuna for the lucrative American sushi market, Reverend Moon's zombies largely are benign in their approach to the world. The feds, on the other hand, are maniacal cat defamers and killers. Worst still, all of their evil deeds are being perpetrated with taxpayer dollars and under the cover of law.
Photos: Jim Dean of the Forsyth County News.