Piping Plovers nesting in the park face a reduced threat of predation, now that feral cats have been relocated away from Jones Beach. Photo by Ray Hennessy/Shutterstock

Jones Beach State Park, New York, January 8, 2019 – The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (State Parks) and American Bird Conservancy (ABC) today announced that a feral cat colony at Jones Beach State Park has been removed from the park.

Since August 2018, 26 feral cats were trapped, examined by veterinarians, and relocated from Jones Beach State Park to cat sanctuaries. The cats were removed humanely over time, in cooperation with cat caretakers who helped with trapping and locating acceptable shelters. In addition, all structures erected for the cats at the park have been removed.

“This is a very positive outcome that safeguards Piping Plovers and ensures a comfortable life for the cats,” said Grant Sizemore, Director of ABC’s Invasive Species programs. “The protected plovers that nest at Jones Beach State Park — and many other species — will have one less threat to contend with, and the cats have a safer place to live out their lives.”

State Parks also continues to trap and remove any cats found outside the former cat colonies. Signage has been posted throughout the Park indicating that the abandonment and feeding of cats is prohibited, and Park Police are actively enforcing this prohibition.

State Parks’ actions fully comply with the settlement of a lawsuit filed by ABC in March 2016, which alleged a violation of the Endangered Species Act. The lawsuit was based on a concern that New York State Parks was not doing enough to ensure that the nesting Piping Plovers — a species listed as Endangered in the state of New York and Threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act — were sufficiently protected from harm by the feral cats.

State Parks Commissioner Rose Harvey said, “Jones Beach State Park is simply not an appropriate place for stray or abandoned cats. We are pleased this agreement with American Bird Conservancy strikes a sensible balance between protecting the Piping Plover and relocating the feral cats that have been dropped off in the park in as humane a manner as possible.”

“American Bird Conservancy is grateful to State Parks for their cooperation and for moving swiftly to meet the requirements of the settlement,” added Sizemore.

Relocating the feral cats builds on State Parks’ efforts to protect Piping Plover habitat at Jones Beach State Park, including pre-season fencing of plover nesting areas, signage, monitoring, protective barriers on nests, public education and outreach, driving restrictions, and predator monitoring.

If you observe someone releasing a cat or other domestic animal in the park, contact New York State Park Police at 631-321-3700. Anyone spotting a cat within the park should notify the Jones Beach Operations Office at 516-785-1600 x 555.