New rule bans feeding and abandoning feral animals at small boat harbors

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A new rule bans feeding and abandoning feral animals at small boat harbors statewide.

Governor David Ige approved the rule in December 2018 in an effort to help protect native and endangered species being threatened by feral animals.

While many Hawaii residents say they see lots of roaming cats, many say it’s become a big problem.

Harold Rainwater took his dog named Bear to Sand Island Park in July 2018.

After a brief standoff, a feral cat jumped on his dog Bears back. 

“The cat came around behind me when I wasn’t looking and latched onto my leg and bit me on my Achilles tendon and above the ankle right down to the bone,” Rainwater said. 

The bite wasn’t swollen at first, but slowly became infected. 

“I spent a few months in the hospital with five different surgeries and this is six months now,” he said. 

He says the surgeon told him it was either stay in the hospital for a few weeks or cut the leg off.

Rainwater’s medical bills have already hit six figures.

He and other boat harbor users say they see people feeding cats island-wide.

Many at Keehi Boat Harbor say the problem occurs in the evening time, and if you go there around five or six o’clock, you’ll see hundreds of cats. 

According to the Hawaiian Humane Society website, 20 percent of Oahu residents are feeding cats that aren’t theirs and 70 percent don’t know if they are sterilized.

Although the Hawaii Humane Society says they are against the ban, the best solution is getting cats spayed and neutered.

“A female cat that’s six months or older that hasn’t been spayed can have up to four litters per year with an average of six to eight kittens a litter,” said Keoni Vaughn, executive director at Lanai Cat Sanctuary on Lanai. 

The former Vice President at Hawaiian Humane Society says the best message to cat owners is to keep cats indoors.

The Department of Land and Natural Resources says feral animals threaten birds, mammals, seals and other fauna. 

On Lanai, Vaughn’s been able to succeed by protecting all animals. 

“We feel that our native and endangered birds also deserve a safe place so we work close with our conservationists so any cat that’s trapped on Lanai is more than welcome to come to us and we bring in about 200 a year,” he said. 

Violators of the ban can face up to a $1,000 fine and jail time. 

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