Monday, February 14, 2011

Coyotes Still Feasting On Bluffers Park Cats

It takes incredible dedication to spend frigid nights trying to prevent coyotes from feasting on feral cats. For two weeks, volunteers have braved relentless cold and howling winds to stand guard over the feral cat colony at Bluffers Park, which are under siege from coyotes living along Lake Ontario. Armed with whistles, sticks and flashlights, they’ve successfully repelled the coyotes until Friday night, when another of the colony of about 25 cats was snatched, in addition to two killed earlier. We reported last week that human food was placed as bait near the shoreline homes volunteers built for the Bluffers cats, which had never before been bothered by the coyotes. They have relentlessly stalked the cats ever since, said Robert Brydges, who has done most of the overnight guard duty, and finally got one that wandered away from the main habitation. Brydges is looking for people to adopt the cats, saying they’re accustomed to humans and would make good pets. One cat has so far been adopted while another eight were placed in a temporary home, he said. We were there on a brutally cold day last week and met up with Judy Wilson, who arrived late in the day to feed them and stand watch until 9 p.m., when Brydges was scheduled to relieve her. She was barely out of her car when some of the cats spotted her and began running in her direction, no different than domestic pets. It’s clear that the volunteers — some of whom have cared for the cats for many years — are as attached to them as most people are to their animals, which is why they continue to guard them at night. But it is unlikely they’ll find homes for many or be able to keep up the vigil indefinitely, which means it is only a matter of time before the coyotes pick off the rest. Many people who posted comments on the online version of our story last week said it is only natural that coyotes prey on cats, which in turn prey on and devour large numbers of songbirds. Anyone who wants to help can email Brydges at bluffscats@hotmail.com. Regular updates are posted on a Facebook page called Scarborough Bluffs Feral Cats.
*The Toronto Star