Moving the cats won't work unless the town also eliminates the conditions that attracted the cats in the first place. That would mean abandoning the site to nature because where people go, cats follow. If the town moves the cats, either those cats will return or other cats will come to take their place.This is why trap/neuter/release (TNR), combined with taking steps to protect the birds from both cats and people, is the best option. A well-run TNR program will result in a stable but small feral colony that won't grow through reproduction but will keep other ferals out of "their" territory.
Jan is right. I love cats, but they are not native and the birds have precedence. TNR has been proven a very effective method of controlling feral cat populations. How to keep the colony from preying on the birds is another problem, but it can be done.
I’ll admit some TNR programs work, but whenever you have an endangered species (and esp. when few nesting pairs are successful, as likely in this case), it’s best to remove all predators for the time being. Particularly when the predator is non-native and NOT “wild”, as this article suggests (though feral is a more appropriate word). Sorry, Jenny, I know you are a friend of cats, but one house cat alone can kill over 200 songbirds and native rodents a year when left outdoors. I’m a wildlife biologist and have studied threatened and endangered birds and mammals, so I can tell you stories. One that comes to mind is a group of FERAL cats who wiped out a whole population California quail. And a 1,000 foot removal won’t be a large enough range for them not to return. Anyway, here is my two cents—I’m usually just a lurker on your blog, but you do have my snail mail query likely on your assistant’s desk.
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