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Cat Project opposes rule change

LIHUE — The Board of Land and Natural Resources recently approved changes to the small boat harbor rules that would stop trap-neuter-release activities in those areas.

“We’re advising people about this right now, telling them to write to the governor saying this is a bad idea,” said Basil Scott, head of Kauai Community Cat Project. “Don’t allow this rule to go into effect that’s written, that’s the number one message.”

Ed Underwood, Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation administrator, said the rule package contains modifications to multiple rule provisions they have wanted to make for many years. The majority of the rule amendments pertain to organizing the definitions to make them more user-friendly, he said.

Feeding feral cats and other wildlife is addressed in the rule changes, and two new administrative rules were approved in relation to wildlife in small boat harbors.

Abandoning animals, feeding wildlife or feral animals, and contributing to colonies at any property under DOBOR jurisdiction would become illegal if the rule goes into effect.

The state risks a rise in feral cat population on Kauai if the rules go into effect, Scott said, because “giving up on sterilization results in a larger population that’s harder to control.”

And while KCCP doesn’t advocate illegal activities, Scott said he thinks DLNR will have a hard time enforcing the potential law.

“We know with people that aren’t associated with us, that obeying the rule will be a mix,” Scott said. “Some will back off and we have strong indications that some will not.”

One provision in relation to cats was deferred by the board until January 2019; a provision that would allow for the disposal of feral or abandoned animals at state small harbors “by any means necessary.”

“This is in order to give ample time for DOBOR to work with animal caregivers to come up with a viable plan to relocate colonies of feral and/or abandoned animals to areas outside of the small boat harbors,” Deborah Ward, DLNR spokeswoman said in a news release.

Theoretically, that provision could have been delayed due to political or legal reasons, Scott said.

“You can surmise why they chose to do it, but personally I think a delay is better than doing it immediately,” Scott said. “I question whether it’s really appropriate from a community relations point of view.”

Now that the rules have been adopted by the Board of Land and Natural Resources, the proposed revisions and additions to the rules will be submitted to Gov. David Ige.

If approved, they will be filed in the Office of the Lieutenant Governor. The rules will become effective 10 days after filing in that office.

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