Problem: Some people have been ‘dumping’ feral and domestic cats at Ferry Reach. *File photo
Problem: Some people have been ‘dumping’ feral and domestic cats at Ferry Reach. *File photo

Islanders who take it upon themselves to trap and then dump ‘feral’ cats in parks could be committing a crime, the SPCA said last night.

The warning comes after the charity received a string of complaints from pet owners whose domestic cats had disappeared from their homes and then been found up at Ferry Reach.

SPCA Inspector, Glyn Roberts, revealed he had spoken to ‘a number of individuals’ who had taken matters regarding the feral cat situation in Bermuda into their own hands.

He added: “These individuals are either doing it because they have a problem personally or have been paid by a third party to remove the cats.

“Unfortunately, as with most things in life, resolving the problem of feral cats isn’t quite that simple.

“There are many ways of effectively addressing the current cat problem and probably ‘trap and dump’ is the least effective and humane.”

The practice of trapping and dumping has been a hot topic of debate on social media sites in Bermuda. And  at the beginning of this month a resident posted a warning to fellow cat-owners on the Bermuda Lost & Found Pets Facebook page.

It stated: “Warning to residents in the Store Hill / Middle Road area in Smiths.

“Someone in this area is trapping cats and releasing them in Ferry Reach.

“They are not checking if these are domestic or feral, rather if they find a cat in a trap on their property they are dumping them.

“Cats are being dumped in the first layby entrance to Ferry Reach Park.

‘If you have lost a cat in the Store Hill / Middle Road area it is worth a check up there.”

Inspector Roberts told the Bermuda Sun that trappers faced several ‘legal pitfalls’ if they persisted.

He added: “Firstly if you are relocating or to be honest ‘dumping’ a cat in a Government Park or on National Trust land then you may have already committed an offence.

“There are a number of pieces of legislation which prohibit causing or permitting an animal to stray or disturb wildlife on protected land and whilst you might try to argue that there are already cats at the location clearly adding to the problem by committing another offence isn’t really justification in the eyes of the law or the Parks Department or National Trust.

“Secondly on welfare grounds you may be committing an offence under the Protection of Animals Act 1975 by abandoning the animal in distress or failing to provide suitable and adequate food, water, shelter and care for it.”

Mr Roberts said homeowners could take steps do to deter cats from becoming a nuisance on their property.

He added: “As frustrating as it may be until the feral/stray cat issue is addressed you best option is to try and make your yard as uninviting to cats as possible.

“There are any number of cat deterrents on the market from ultrasonic devices and strong smelling granules to motion activated sprinklers

“You can grow spiky or strong smelling plants around your boundary to deter cats and more importantly clean up your garden and yard and make sure you don’t leave trash around. 

“If you have a boat then invest in a snug well-fitting cover and check it regularly. 

“Sunlight degrades plastic, paint and glass fibre so not only will you be deterring the cats but you will be protecting your boat as well.”