KEEHI LAGOON, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The administrator of the state's Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation estimates 100 feral cats live on the grounds of the Keehi Small Boat Harbor – a number he says can be blamed on the people who come on property to feed them.
"We have cat feces, we have litters of cats now," says Ed Underwood. "We have a new litter of kittens on the facility."
Underwood's department wants to establish a rule that would ban the unauthorized feeding of feral cats at Keehi and other harbors across Hawaii. Violators, under the proposed law, could be fined and face jail time.
"We don't want people to just come in and establish colonies wherever they want to," he said.
The Hawaiian Humane Society believes the measure lacks compassion, saying it amounts to starving cats.
"Essentially, it punishes animals for what is a human-caused problem," said Stephanie Kendrick, the Humane Society's public policy advocate.
Underwood says the department hasn't done so yet, but it may be forced to destroy some of the animals that are considered predators. While he notes it would be within DLNR's authority, he says it would only be used as a last resort.
"We're always going to bring them to the Humane Society first. But if that same animal keeps coming back to this facility, then we may have to take some other recourse to deal with it," he said.
Kendrick also fears boat owners' pets could be mistaken for strays and killed by mistake.
"The department wants to give itself permission to capture and destroy animals loose on small boat harbor property, without regard to ownership, by any means necessary," she said.
The rule change regarding feral animals is just one of dozens of rule changes Underwood's division is proposing that affect to harbors, boats and boaters