REPORT TITLE:
Feral Animals; Task Force


DESCRIPTION:
Establishes a temporary managed cat colony task force to address
health concerns related to the feral cat population.  (SD1)

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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THE SENATE                              S.B. NO.           S.D. 1
TWENTIETH LEGISLATURE, 2000                                
STATE OF HAWAII                                            
                                                             
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                   A  BILL  FOR  AN  ACT

RELATING TO FERAL ANIMALS. 


BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF HAWAII:

 1      SECTION 1.  The legislature finds that the State continues
 
 2 to face an overpopulation of feral cats.  These cats include tame
 
 3 cats that have been abandoned by irresponsible owners and the
 
 4 progeny of these cats which are often unsocialized to human
 
 5 contact.  Historically, many people have tried to trap and remove
 
 6 these cats, often to the detriment of the cats.  These methods
 
 7 have not proven successful and the problem persists.  
 
 8      A new method called trap/neuter/return (TNR) has been used
 
 9 successfully in many countries and in other states and cities in
 
10 the United States.  This method consists of a dedicated volunteer
 
11 caretaker pulling free-roaming feral cats into colonies and
 
12 gaining their trust through daily, consistent feeding which then
 
13 enables the caretaker to trap the animals for sterilization.
 
14 Once all the animals in a colony are sterilized, they remain in
 
15 the group for life, fed and monitored by the caretaker.
 
16      Many volunteer groups exist on Oahu and in the other
 
17 counties that have an impressive track record of putting TNR to
 
18 practice and supporting the effort.  Two outstanding examples of
 
19 these are the Hawaii Cat Foundation, in the forefront of the TNR
 

 
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 1 practice and the newly formed Abandoned and Feral Cat Friends,
 
 2 working tirelessly to stabilize additional colonies.  Both of
 
 3 these groups work in conjunction with the Hawaiian Humane Society
 
 4 which for many years has aided the managed cat colony caretakers
 
 5 by providing free spay/neuter surgery and inexpensive
 
 6 identification for feral cats.  Due to this program and many of
 
 7 the caretakers and their supporters, a number of areas on Oahu
 
 8 have been stabilized and contain distinct cat colonies consisting
 
 9 of well cared for, neutered feral cats.  The impact of these
 
10 colonies on the public is minimal in comparison to the impact of
 
11 the uncontrolled population of feral cats in existence prior to
 
12 the caretakers' intervention.  It is the plan of many of these
 
13 volunteers to continue the TNR program until it is no longer
 
14 needed. 
 
15      Recently, the vector control branch of the department of
 
16 health proposed rules and has held hearings on them which would
 
17 in effect bring the TNR program to a complete halt.  These
 
18 proposed rules will forbid feeding any feral animal on public,
 
19 and some private, land.  While the goals of the department are
 
20 laudable and must be addressed, it appears that such draconian
 
21 measures may not accomplish the department's goals.  In addition,
 
22 interested parties such as the various humane societies and other
 
23 animal welfare organizations did not have a chance to provide
 

 
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 1 input into the drafting of these proposed rules until the final
 
 2 hearing stage.  Because of this, the entire TNR program seems to
 
 3 have been overlooked by the department as a viable alternative.
 
 4      Based on the success of the TNR program and the enormous
 
 5 volunteer efforts provided by those concerned with the cats'
 
 6 welfare and their impact on the public, the purpose of this Act
 
 7 is to delay the adoption of any rules relating to feral cats
 
 8 until a task force can be convened to discuss the issues involved
 
 9 and propose alternatives to a feeding ban.
 
10      SECTION 2.  There is established a temporary managed cat
 
11 colony task force in the office of the director of health for
 
12 administrative purposes to address the trap/neuter/return program
 
13 as a solution to health concerns raised by cat overpopulation.
 
14      The task force shall include representatives from all four
 
15 counties and shall consist of:
 
16      (1)  Representatives of all interested government agencies
 
17           and departments, including but not limited to the:
 
18           (A)  Department of Health;
 
19           (B)  Department of Land and Natural Resources;
 
20           (C)  County parks departments;
 
21           (D)  United States Department of Agriculture;
 
22           (E)  National Park Service;
 
23           (F)  United States Fish and Wildlife Service; and
 

 
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 1           (G)  Various branches of the United States armed
 
 2                forces;
 
 3      (2)  Representatives of animal welfare organizations,
 
 4           including but not limited to:
 
 5           (A)  Animal Rights Hawaii;
 
 6           (B)  Hawaiian Humane Society;
 
 7           (C)  Hawaii Cat Foundation;
 
 8           (D)  Abandoned and Feral Cat Friends;
 
 9           (E)  The Feline Foundation of Maui; and
 
10           (F)  Advocates of Kona;
 
11      (3)  Representatives of environmental organizations such as
 
12           the Audubon Society;
 
13      (4)  Representatives of property owners and managers,
 
14           including but not limited to:
 
15           (A)  Condominium association members; and
 
16           (B)  The Commercial Property Managers Association;
 
17      (5)  Persons with scientific expertise, including but not
 
18           limited to:
 
19           (A)  A representative of the Hawaii Veterinary Medical
 
20                Association;
 
21           (B)  An animal behaviorist; and
 
22           (C)  A public health specialist with knowledge in
 
23                zoonotics;
 

 
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 1      (6)  No fewer than five cat colony managers selected from a
 
 2           list of volunteers of colonies where the
 
 3           trap/neuter/return program is in place; and
 
 4      (7)  Other persons with interest in or expertise on feral
 
 5           cat overpopulation issues.
 
 6      No later than August 1, 2000, each agency and nonprofit
 
 7 organization shall appoint their own representative to the task
 
 8 force.  The representatives shall then solicit names of feral cat
 
 9 colony caretakers to volunteer to sit on the task force and shall
 
10 select five of the nominees based on their knowledge of the
 
11 trap/neuter/return program and ability to serve on the task
 
12 force.  The task force shall elect a chair, vice chair, and
 
13 secretary from its members at its first meeting.  Until the
 
14 election, the representative from the Hawaiian Humane Society
 
15 shall act as temporary chair.
 
16      The task force shall address cat-related health concerns.
 
17 The task force shall immediately survey, in general terms, the
 
18 managed colonies already present in the State including a census
 
19 of cats in the colonies.  As much as possible, the task force
 
20 shall keep track of new colony formation, including the number of
 
21 cats in the area prior to sterilization, the number of cats
 
22 sterilized, the steps taken for new cats that appear in the
 
23 colony, and any health issues that may arise.  No identifying
 

 
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 1 information shall be collected without the caretaker's consent.
 
 2 The task force shall also monitor all complaints made to the
 
 3 vector control branch that are directly related to cats and
 
 4 public health, including those relating to feral cats in colonies
 
 5 and not in colonies, and domestic cats, keeping all complaints in
 
 6 at least those categories with summaries of the complaints and
 
 7 their resolution.  In addition, each complaint summary shall
 
 8 include the name of the complainant, if known, and the
 
 9 geographical location where the problem complained of occurred.
 
10      The task force shall submit interim reports to the
 
11 legislature thirty days prior to the convening of each regular
 
12 session for the first five years unless its work is completed
 
13 sooner; provided that the task force shall submit a final report
 
14 thirty days prior to the convening of the 2006 regular session.
 
15 Each interim report shall outline the task force's progress
 
16 towards finding solutions to alleviate the public impact of feral
 
17 cats.
 
18      SECTION 3.  The department of health shall not adopt any
 
19 rules relating to feral animals, and any rules already in effect
 
20 at the time of the establishment of the task force shall be
 
21 suspended until the managed cat colony task force has completed
 
22 its discussions and made its recommendations.
 
23      SECTION 4.  This Act shall take effect upon its approval.