Brookhaven may ban feeding feral cats on town land

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In an effort to curb the spread of feral cats that has plagued some of Brookhaven's nature preserves, the town is considering making it illegal to feed animals on most town land.

Brookhaven currently forbids residents from feeding "waterfowl and pigeons" on public properties such as parks and beaches, town laws state.

Proposed changes to the law, which will be the subject of a June 1 public hearing, would broaden the rules to include all "wildlife and domestic animals" and to apply on all town "nature preserves and designated open space," according to documents filed at Town Hall.

The changes would also make clear that it is against the law to deposit kitchen scraps and cat food on town lands, a draft of the proposal states.

Punishment for breaking the law would be a fine of as much as $250 and 10 days in jail for each offense.

Town Councilwoman Jane Bonner said the changes were proposed by the town's Feral Cat Committee, which was created in 2008 when the town grappled with the problem of wild cats at Cedar Beach, a nesting site for rare piping plover birds.

The cat population at Cedar Beach is under control, but the animals remain a problem in other parts of town, officials have said.

A stronger wildlife law would hopefully prevent the spread of feral animals, but it could be difficult to police, Bonner said.

"We're not supposed to bring domesticated animals into our parks and beaches anyway, but we do," she said. "Quite frankly I don't know how we're going to enforce it."

The town board voted unanimously Tuesday to set the public hearing on the proposed law.

The proposed law says that the tougher rules are designed to decrease the spread of animals that "through predation, have an adverse impact on the other species."

The law would not apply at the town's animal shelter or the Holtsville Ecology Center, records state.

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