Feral cat cull underway near booby bird nests on Brac

| 20/01/2023 | 28 Comments
Feral cat cull on Cayman Brac
New culling area on Cayman Brac (Source: the DoE)

(CNS): In response to the number of brown booby birds that have been killed recently on the southwest shoreline of Cayman Brac, the feral cat and rodent cull that began last week around the Lighthouse area on the Bluff in the eastern end of the island will be expanded to include this high-density pocket of nesting birds.

Property owners around the new control area will be contacted and officials will work with domestic cat owners to chip and register pets before the control efforts begin. All captured cats will be scanned and those with identifiable owners will be returned.

The Department of Environment, which is managing the control programme in partnership with the Department of Agriculture, said cat owners are responsible for controlling the movement of their pets under the alien species regulations and are urged to keep them safely indoors as far as possible, especially at night when cats are known to hunt more actively.

Animals trapped in the first week in the Lighthouse area (Source: the DoE)

While the cull has stirred up some controversy, the threat now posed to the survival of the Brac’s brown booby population is so great there is no alternative. According to the DoE, the control programme will be maintained for some time due to the number of feral cats on the island.

Studies have shown that as feral cats are removed from a specific area, others from a wider range will move into the space looking for food.

“As such, the pressure in this area will not ease on these birds and trapping efforts will need to continue throughout the brown booby nesting season to give them a chance at breeding successfully,” the DoE said in a social media post.

“The traps are baited, set and monitored at night and closed again in the morning. No feral cat trapping will be performed during the daytime. This is to ensure that trapped animals are not exposed to prolonged heat or human disturbance and also to ensure that our endemic Sister Islands rock iguanas do not enter traps,” the DoE said, noting that iguanas are cold-blooded and do not move around at night, while cats are nocturnal hunters.

Field cameras will be mounted at certain sites to monitor nests and traps. Tampering with the cameras or traps is illegal and people are asked to report any problems to the project team.

Anyone who lives within a 500m radius of the cull location who has not yet been contacted is asked to call the DoE Terrestrial Resources Unit at 925-7625 or 949-8469.


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Category: Land Habitat, Science & Nature

Comments (28)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    The DOE power grab needs to STOP. This is insane. Its not even the cats causing the issues.

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  2. Anonymous says:

    someone once said a person’s character is determined by how one treats animals. In Canada, the gov builds little sidewalk houses in the winter to feed and keep cats warm and safe during cold weather. In contrast here in Cayman we are starving and killing innocent cats because the Booby pop is low. Blame us humans and leave the damn innocent cats alone. So fewer cats and more birds and rats? Idiots!!!!

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  3. Anonymous says:

    What about the problem with all of the chickens…

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  4. Anonymous says:

    Finally.

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  5. Anonymous says:

    Why not have a culling program similarly to the iguana cull? In less than a month the feral cat issue would be resolved.

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  6. Anonymous says:

    I geo-located and visited the area on the south shore upon and around which GIC/DOE have announced they are intending to cull cats.

    My conclusion after my visit to the site is that this whole culling affair is a total circus sideshow. Within a mile in either direction of the geo-coordinates given in the aerial photo, there are well over a dozen properties, the shore-ward areas of which–at some point in the past in conjunction with the developments–appear to have been scraped clean of the natural beach ridge formation and rocks. (Boobies just need to keep from nesting in places that people might want to bulldoze clean and there would be no problem, right?)

    The property contiguous and to the to westward of the geo-located parcel was once cleared from road to sea and the protective beach ridge bulldozed down. At least two hurricanes washed over the property and in a couple of places washed rocks and debris into the road. In addition to being previously flattened, the westward parcel was, some years ago, granted planning permission for the development of a condominium project! However, the project was halted by the developers. The property for which geo-coordinates were given was in the past also granted planning permission for projects.

    According to what I deem to be reliable reports, had it not been for the regional and local economic conditions that caused a halt to the projects, that whole area would have been flattened to make way for the developments. The developments would have deprived the alleged feral predators of many meals because the Booby nesting grounds would have been bulldozed away to make nests for tourists.

    Since the properties are under private ownership, there is currently nothing in place that would prevent the granting of planing permission for similar development on the properties. The properties would likely be subject to the scorched earth, scrape-it-all clean clearing of building sites so typical of Cayman Brac.

    It is all a show people. A circus show. “Step right up, folks! Step right up! Take your seats in the Big Top and watch as the Mighty DOE culls cats and saves the day!” The culling of cats while allowing the beach ridge and natural foreshore to be scraped away, and allowing land all over the island to be rendered flat and lifeless, is akin to the biblical admonition that reads thusly:
    “But all their works they do for to be seen of men.” … “…blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel.”

    Go here a good dose of reality: https://caymannewsservice.com/2023/01/invasive-species-the-rest-of-the-story/

    The takeaway: It ain’t just cats, folks: enabled and abetted by lame regulations and impotent enforcement, another very potentially dangerous, environmentally destructive, and quite invasive species is very strongly implicated in significantly contributing to the precipitous decline of the Booby Bird population.

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  7. Anonymous says:

    Blame the cats and ignore the ecological devastation of the booby habitats by developers.

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  8. Anonymous says:

    No surprise that Booby nests are threatened there. Just look at the development all the way to the edge of the bluff top. This is or should be just as illegal as development to the water mark.

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  9. Anonymous says:

    Well, that didn’t take long, especially after being told that expanding the culling areas on the Brac would be considered. The timing on this new area indicates plans already were in place. Sad.

    Three points:

    1. The Humane Society, which at this point appears to be going along with the cat culling, recently posted that they needed someone traveling to the Brac to take over a kitten that had been adopted at the Grand Cayman shelter. WTF? Kill some cats but then send another one out here? Who decided that was OK?

    2. Be fair. If coverage of this issue means posting pictures of dead birds supposedly killed by cats, we also need proof that captured cats are being euthanized humanely. If DOA is sticking the cats in a crusher cage and then injecting the euthanizing drug before sedating the cat, that is not humane, and we need to see those photos, too. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander, so a proper observer needs to be appointed to ensure these killings are, indeed, humane.

    3. The litany about how Trap-Neuter-Release does not work has merit. The research shows that TNR and FEED does work. There are plenty of people on the Brac who would take on feeding feline colonies. Any time this has been proposed, it is shot down with shouts that the cats still kill for sport. I doubt that most do.

    I recall several weeks ago that someone entered a comment on CNS asking, in a respectable manner, what benefit was provided by booby birds and iguanas. One response was a litany about beauty and culture, and an overall benefit to feeling good about nature. I suppose if you love birds and lizards over cats, that makes sense. It’s not a valid argument for those of us who prefer cats.

    One other response, which underscored the condescending adamancy of those who want to kill cats, was that the question was the “most silliest” comment that they had seen in CNS.

    Bobbies, iguanas and cats have lived together for decades on the Brac. IMHO, killing the “overpopulation” of the cats is not the answer.

    There’s got to be a better way to deal with this issue than for each side to dig in its heels, and instead be willing to negotiate. In the mean time, some bad will is being sown that does not have to be there.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Do you know how stupid you sound? Not one cat has been killed by a booby or iguana.

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      • Anonymous says:

        It appears as if Brac cats don’t eat rats! I guess they will soon be asking for some of the $34.00 bag of cat food I saw at a supermarket yesterday.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Enjoy the coming rat explosion.

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    • Anonymous says:

      There might have been cats and boobies on the Brac for “decades” but the boobies have been there for much longer (probably thousands of years).

      In the bigger picture, humans and cats have only just arrived and then suddenly booby birds decline in the space of decades, which is a blink in the eye of mother nature. This is what is worrying!

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      • Beaumont Zodecloun says:

        Agree. Everything adverse to the environment eventually resolves to human intrusion.

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  10. Anonymous says:

    Wow that area is tiny and the KTs of the world are blowing this out of proportion.

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  11. Pokebanks says:

    Gotta catch em all.

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