PETITION TARGET: Leadership of Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and Garner State Park
At least 16 cats have been shot to death at Garner State Park in Texas as part of the park’s default “management” strategy, public records documents show.
The documents, obtained by Lady Freethinker via public records request, don’t indicate whether the destroyed cats — shot to death with 0.22 caliber guns — were sick, injured, or acting aggressively. The documents also don’t indicate whether the specific cats gunned down had proven histories of killing wildlife or causing problems for park visitors, or whether they were killed simply for existing within the park.
Discharge reports note only that five cats were shot to death in 2015 and that three cats and eight cats were killed in January and December 2021, respectively.
A park visitor who reached out to park staff in November 2021 described the feral cats she spotted as “well fed” and “used to people,” and noted they “could easily be rescued and adopted.” She also offered her assistance in humanely trapping and rehoming the cats.
But park staff moved forward with the shootings – while actively attempting to conceal the killings from the public.
Eight of the 11 killings in 2021 took place when the park was closed, with the park official noting “no one was aware” of his shooting the cats. The park’s approved 2022 control plan notes staff should attempt to lure animals needing lethally “managed” to non-public areas of the park, while interagency emails show park staff encouraging other staff to not make the park’s control plan accessible unless specifically requested in order to avoid “public outcry.”
Killing cats should never be an agency’s first – or only – resort. Garner State Park and all Texas State Parks must make a whole-hearted effort to find solutions that protect native wildlife without killing cats as a default.
Sign our petition urging TPWD and Garner State Park to put together a working group to conduct formal studies and counts on the parks’ feral cat colonies, assiduously search for and identify possible non-lethal solutions, and actively and persistently work with rescuers and volunteer organizations to safely and humanely relocate and re-home potentially adoptable cats.