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Natural Areas Coalition of South Florida
Resolution Letter

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Resolution Letter

If you would like a copy of this letter please e-mail us at coalitionsf@hotmail.com

April 2001

Commissioner
111 NW First Street
Miami FL 33128

Dear Commissioner

I am writing to express my support for the recently adopted rules by the County Commission and the Park & Recreation Department that will protect public health and our natural areas and prevent additional impacts on our native and migratory wildlife species that area already disappearing.

Every year exotic plants and animals significantly impact our natural areas. The burden of irresponsible pet owners who dump unwanted animals in county parks should not be borne by taxpayers and south Floridas imperiled wildlife for the benefit of special interest groups who want to use public property to maintain populations of exotic animals (feral cats, as case in point). Much of these lands were purchased with taxpayer money to protect, preserve, restore and enhance natural areas and wildlife.

The Park & Recreation Department is responsible for properly managing our parks, and as land stewards they must be held accountable to do so, based on science. While I wish no harm to any animal, the concept of having cat colonies in parks in particular is totally unacceptable.

Special interest groups should not be allowed to use our public parks, many of which were purchased for wildlife use, to maintain the exotic animal(s) of their choice. I urge you to direct the Park & Recreation Department to protect our natural areas and rescue our native wildlife by mandating that groups involved with managed cat colonies must remove these exotic and feral animals.

I am concerned about the severe consequences not removing feral cats from parks will have upon public health and the disappearing wildlife that reside in and around the parks. Most are unwanted pets (or their offspring) of irresponsible pet owners who abandoned them, thinking they will have a reasonable life in a park. Unfortunately this is not the case. These cats are subject to many diseases (including rabies, toxoplasmosis, hookworm, ringworm, etc.) that can be transmitted to humans. They use our parks, playgrounds, and beaches as litter boxes, leaving feces in areas where it can come into contact with children and adults. They also succumb to injuries and often are brutally killed by cars and dogs.

Misinformed or unaware animal welfare groups appear to be using strong-arm tactics to get their way. Although their intent appears genuine, it is shortsighted. Feral cats are not and have never been part of any south Florida natural habitat, and using public parks to maintain exotic animals can have devastating ecological impacts on the very resources these parks are to preserve. To consider these groups as providing a valuable public service is twisted. To permit such activities to continue is irresponsible by the people we appoint as caretakers of our childrens natural heritage.

The problems resulting from managed cat colonies include:

Few colony cats receive the full complement of recommended vaccines, jeopardizing their own health and increasing the potential for spread of disease both to other cats and other species including humans.

Cats are subject to many diseases (including rabies, toxoplasmosis, hookworm, ringworm, etc.) that can be transmitted to humans, and allowing communities of them in County parks increases the risk to public health.

Managed cat colonies actually increase in size over time because their existence encourages other irresponsible pet owners to dump new animals where they see cats being fed.

Cats defecate in our parks, on our beaches and in the sandlots of our childrens playgrounds. Tourists and residents alike are disgusted to find cat feces under foot, under beach and picnic blankets and in the lots designated for our children.

Places such as Crandon Marina where caretakers have allowed cats to use public restrooms as shelters, wreak with the odors of cat urine and rotting food that add to the public health risk.

Cat colony caretakers are unable to catch all of the cats in a given area, so many are not sterilized and continue to breed.

Cats are not territorial as claimed by cat colony proponents. Not only do they not discourage other cats, newcomers are tolerated.

Even well fed cats still hunt and kill wildlife, regardless of regular feedings.

Cats have been shown to have a greater impact on native species than on exotic, unwanted species.

Feral cats could cause the extinction of numerous imperiled native and migratory wildlife species and cause the quality of our parks to significantly deteriorate.

Extensive research has been conducted around the world to substantiate these problems with feral cats.

If Miami-Dade County does nothing, or allows these special interest groups continued access to our park lands, public health will be put at risk, economic benefits from tourism will be lost, many species of wildlife will continue to be maimed and killed, and the quality of our remaining natural areas will deteriorate to the point where they may no longer be worth protecting. All of this would be to benefit the na´ve desires of one special interest group, which is outrageous and unacceptable to the majority of citizens, voters and tourists.

Thank you for your sensibility, compassion for our wildlife and natural areas and timely assistance in this matter. I look forward to hearing from you soon as to the outcome of this very alarming situation.

Sincerely,

Name:

Address:

City, State, Zip