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What's Your Take: Mama Cat or the Piping Plovers?

What's Your Take: Mama Cat or the Piping Plovers?

To summarize the story for you, founder of the Galveston Ornithological Society, James M. Stevenson, shot and killed a cat that lived under the San Luis Pass toll bridge that connects Galveston to mainland Texas. An avid birder, he felt that the cat (and other wild animals) were feeding on the endangered piping plovers in the area – so he took matters into his own hands.

The state law at the time of the incident prohibited killing a cat "belonging to another," but it was changed on Sept. 1 to include all cats regardless of ownership. Although the cat was living under the bridge, Mama Cat was named and cared for by a toll collector, John Newland. Opening arguments began on Nov. 13 for the case where Stevenson faces up to two years in jail and a $10,000 fine if convicted on animal cruelty charges.

It's a very polarizing suit, with animal lovers often feeling for both sides. I'm curious to hear how you feel about this:


Join The Conversation
suvana suvana 9 years
Mmmm, dumb as a rock, and *armed*. Idiot should have taken one minute to think and gotten the cat taken to a shelter.
Soniabonya Soniabonya 9 years
I agree that the ferral animal population is a big threat to many native ecosystems around the U.S. I understand that the bird is endangered and need protection from the ferral animals that hunt them. I can see his perspective on this. That being said, I don't ever condone killing an animal, ferral or other unless it is an immediate danger to you or another person. The man had plenty of other options. Shelter, adoption, move it to another location away from the birds.
JessBear JessBear 9 years
This makes me sick to my stomach.
ReverendZelda ReverendZelda 9 years
He was taking care of the cat... meaning that he found the cat there, and started to feed it. It wasn't his cat persay... and I know a lot of strays in this area wouldn't let me take them home with me.
Linny Linny 9 years
update- there was a mistrial
chancleta chancleta 9 years
im deadlocked animals have to do what they have to do to survive cat has to eat that being said i can see his distress at the endangered animal getting preyed upon BUT how did he know the cat was actually preying on the birds? PLUS he could have found another way found a shelter or something
nikodarling nikodarling 9 years
The end certainly does not justify the means. Yes, endangered animals need protecting but you can't just go around killing other animals to protect them. How many birds could this one cat possibly kill? Not enough to wipe out an entire species.
MandyJoBo MandyJoBo 9 years
Who does he think he is? Who made him ruler of ecology?
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 9 years
I understand what stray cats, or even outside cats can do to bird populations. Feral cats can wipe out entire areas, it’s why you should spay and neuter. I am not sure the law in this city as to outside cats (in my city they must be collared, although I would never let mine outside because of cars and or dumb people like this dude) no person has the right to take matters in their own hands and Kill an animal. The only time that is justified in my eyes, is if that animal is attacking a human being. This guy needs to go to jail.
macgirl macgirl 9 years
I don't think he gets the right to choose AND KILL one animal species over the other. While there might not be quite the uproar if it wasn't a cute little cat, I just don't think it should matter. I think the biggest problem is what is going on in his head that he went to that drastic of a measure.
brittanyk brittanyk 9 years
A cat eating a bird for food (despite it being endangered or not) is COMPLETELY different than some guy shooting a cat because it's killing birds. Ugh. That makes me sick that he would do something like that.
cageyme cageyme 9 years
I'm going to have to take the cat's side on this one. I am all for protecting endangered species, but shooting an animal when there are so many other options really muddles the message. "I love these little birds so much that I am going to annihilate all other living creatures." How is that showing concern for living creatures? It's not like the plovers were being threatened by a coyote or a rabid raccoon. It was a cat. That said, I think a stiff fine and time served should be enough. Maybe a ton of hours community service at a cat shelter. :sigh:
sunami sunami 9 years
The guy should be guilty for shooting the cat regardless of his reasoning. Jailed and fined so as to not cause others to react the same way. He should have proven that the Cat was eating those endangered birds. Innocent until proven guilty should apply to other species not only humans.
roxyb roxyb 9 years
I have one more thing to add...if the toll collector was "taking care" of the cat then why was it living under a bridge? As choco-cat said - peeps should start taking responsibility for their pets!
roxyb roxyb 9 years
I have to agree with you ClassicsDiva. I am an animal lover and I think that what he did was wrong but I don't think he should go to jail. Should he be fined? Sure - the maximum amount. Should he have to serve time? I think it would be better served at a shelter. He should also be educated about animal cruelty through some sort of mandatory course.
Schaianne Schaianne 9 years
There is no leash law for cats in most of this country. He had no right to kill it. If the birds are stupid enough (Highly unlikely) not to get out of the way of a cat, then they'd die. Sad - but part of life. Man cannot take matters like this into his own hands. Here's another disturbing though ... did Mama Cat have kittens? And if so, did they survive the loss of their mother? Throw the book at him!
Choco-cat Choco-cat 9 years
If people would take responsibility to fix their animals and not abandon their pets, this whole thing never would have come to a head. I am upset that this man took it into his own hands to destroy the cat for doing what came naturally, but I am more upset at all the people out there not being responsible pet owners so that these types of situations happen in the first place.
Rachelleybelley Rachelleybelley 9 years
who ever voted no guilty is sick
Linny Linny 9 years
wow. that is disgusting. don't they call that playing god then he decides what animals live and which ones die? there are other ways to resolve things other than killing! it seems like killing things is the go-to way to deal with things around here. sad.
colormesticky colormesticky 9 years
If the toll collector was feeding the cat, then it wasn't starving and eating all the birds. Sure, it probably killed a few, but that's what cats do. Guilty.
Le-Luxe Le-Luxe 9 years
What a jerk! So what is he going to go around killing every single cat now for possible risk of eating a bird? Put him away.
justanotherchick justanotherchick 9 years
throw away the keys!!!!
hottpink hottpink 9 years
Acemonkey- You took the words right out of my mouth!!!!!
ClassicsDiva ClassicsDiva 9 years
I'm generally not a fan of going around shooting things for any reason. However, there's no denying that in some places, high numbers of feral cats are starting to mess up the local ecosystems, causing problems for small prey animal species and the smaller predators who depend on them. I don't know if that's the case with the plovers in Galveston, but I can see this guy's perspective--once the plovers are gone, they're gone forever, and there's clearly no shortage of housecats. The only problem is that cats are cuddly and cute--not too many people raise a fuss when the folks down in Australia kill cane toads (another non-native species wreaking ecological havoc), because nobody wants to cuddle with a ginormous toad. That being said, the man was an idiot to just shoot the cat. He had no way of knowing if it was a beloved pet or a random stray. As several posters have mentioned, he had other options. Should he be sent to prison for being as dumb as a post? Probably not. Should he be fined? Probably. Should folks who are interested in the welfare of endangered species try to find humane yet effective means of dealing with the damage caused by non-native species? Definitely. Good luck to the plovers.
kiddylnd kiddylnd 9 years
Leop we don't want a jerk like that here! :wink: There is absolutely NO reason that man had for killing the cat. Well, no valid reason. It is forbidden to take the law into your hands a la vigilante for human crimes, so why does he think he has the right to take this into his own hands. BOO on him! Throw the book at him!
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