A large group of feral cats threatening native seabirds and animals on the Channel Islands were all successfully removed and are now awaiting adoption, officials announced this week.
Those 52 cats and 10 kittens were safely transported from the Navy-owned island to an animal sanctuary in Ramona, according the Fund for Animals Wildlife Center, where the cats reside.
On Wednesday, environmentalists, Navy Officials and animal rights activists held a ceremony to announce the success of the project -- which cost $3 million, the Ventura County Star reported.
Of the 62 cats taken from the island, 15 were adopted, and 12 are ready for adoption. The rest are undergoing socialization therapy, said Aly Crumpacker director of the center
This is an unusually successful number of adoptions for feral cat rescues, Crumpacker said. She attributes the success to the center's high volume of volunteers, who help to socialize the cats.
San Nicolas Island is the outermost of the Channel Islands and has been the home to a large population of feral cats since at least the 1950s. The U.S. government owns the island and, several years ago, began efforts to remove the cats because they threaten the island's fragile ecosystem.
"They had an island that had a fragile ecosystem," Hazard said in 2009. "They were charged with protecting the native wildlife on that island, and they had cats who, through no fault of their own, had been transported there and were having a negative impact on the native wildlife."
Authorities hoped to improve the nesting success for seabirds and protect the habitat of the Channel Island fox and the federally threatened island night lizard, according to a news release issued about the 4,000-square foot enclosure, which is covered with netting over the top to prevent escapes.
"I think it shows not only an interest in providing care for the animals but a tremendous amount of respect for their individual needs ... a grace and a compassion that's beyond the recognition that they need to be fed and housed, that they have very significant and unique needs," Hazard said, marveling at the creativity the sanctuary staff showed in creating the enclosure.
Ramona’s Fund for Animals Wildlife Rehabilitation Center keeps not only big cats like lions and mountain lions but also birds and a pygmy hippopotamus.