August 08, 2018
New York Parks’ Dan Keefe, 518-486-1868
American Bird Conservancy’s Grant Sizemore, 513-460-0482 or Steve Holmer, 202-744-6459
Based on a judicial order and settlement entered on August 6, the Piping Plovers that nest annually at Jones Beach State Park in New York will no longer face the risk of predation from feral cat colonies inside the Park's boundaries. The plover, a small shorebird, is federally protected under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) as a Threatened species in the Atlantic Coast region, and is listed as Endangered under New York law.
A lawsuit filed by American Bird Conservancy (ABC) in March 2016 alleged a violation of the ESA based on a concern that New York State Parks was not doing enough to ensure that feral cats do not harm the protected Piping Plovers and their chicks. Subsequent discussions between ABC and New York State Parks led to a settlement that provides protection to the plovers from cat predation.
Under the order and settlement, the cats currently living in colonies at Jones Beach will be humanely trapped and removed from the park by the end of the year to a sanctuary where they will be cared for. If the cats cannot be humanely relocated immediately, a limited number of cats will remain in a fenced area at the park temporarily. State Parks has also agreed that any new cats found in the park will be trapped and removed so new cat colonies do not exist at the park in future. The agreement means that the plovers and their chicks will no longer face the possibility of predation from cats.
"We are delighted to reach this agreement with New York State Parks," said Mike Parr, President of American Bird Conservancy. "By removing the cat colonies, New York State Parks has ensured a much safer environment for the plovers to help them nest successfully in the future."
Rose Harvey, Commissioner, New York Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation, said "Jones Beach State Park is simply not an appropriate place for stray or abandoned cats. We are pleased this agreement with the American Bird Conservancy strikes a sensible balance between protecting the Piping Plover and relocating the feral cats that have been dropped off in the park in as humane a manner as possible."
"Cats make wonderful pets but harm wildlife when allowed to roam outdoors," said Grant Sizemore, Director of Invasive Species Programs at ABC. "Every year, cats kill an estimated 2.4 billion birds in the U.S. alone. Feral cats, listed among the world's most harmful invasive species, are particularly problematic. As a result of this settlement, we're thrilled that the Piping Plovers at Jones Beach State Park will be better protected from feral cats."
State Parks is committed to maintaining a safe environment for the Piping Plover and regularly takes steps to protect their habitat, including pre-season fencing of plover nesting areas, signage, monitoring, exclosures on nests, public education and outreach, driving restrictions, and predator monitoring.
ABC was represented in the case by lawyers from the New York Office of Goodwin Procter.
American Bird Conservancy is dedicated to conserving birds and their habitats throughout the Americas. With an emphasis on achieving results and working in partnership, we take on the greatest problems facing birds today, innovating and building on rapid advancements in science to halt extinctions, conserve habitats, eliminate threats, and build capacity for bird conservation. Find us on abcbirds.org, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter (@abcbirds1).
The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation oversees more 250 individual parks, historic sites, golf courses, recreational trails and boat launches, which are visited by 71 million people annually. For more information on any of these recreation areas, visit www.parks.ny.gov