By JOHN BURNETT
Tribune-Herald staff writer
A nonprofit animal sanctuary whose volunteers have been feeding feral cats at the Keaau Recycling and Transfer Station has been told by the county it must quit the practice.
An email sent Thursday by Greg Goodale, the county’s Solid Waste Division chief, to Frannie Pueo, president of Hui Pono Holoholona, stated that the county’s lease of the W.H. Shipman Ltd. land the transfer station sits on expires on June 30 and that a provision of the new lease is “no feeding of feral animals on the Shipman lease parcel.”
“The new lease conditions do not take effect until July 1, 2013, so there is a two-week period in which arrangements can be made to remove the feeding stations from this site. You had indicated in the past you might have an alternate location where the cats which are currently at the Keaau site could potentially be relocated,” Goodale wrote. He added that the county is “obligated to comply with all of the conditions of this lease.”
Pueo said on Friday that she is shocked by the lease provision, which she called “inhumane.” She said her organization’s volunteers have been feeding feral animals, including the cats and chickens at the transfer station, since 2007. Pueo was reluctant to disclose the estimated population of feral cats at the Keaau site, but said it “fluctuates between 30 and 50.”
“We are supportive of trap, neuter, return and managing of feral cat colonies instead of rounding them up to kill, which has been the awful, inhumane solution that this county has been doing prior to
accepting what we’ve done,” she said. She said that her organization is in the process of building a larger shelter for unwanted cats than its current facility, but added that she currently doesn’t have the room or resources to relocate the transfer station colony, or to accept any more unwanted animals.
“Two weeks is not enough time to remove (if it were possible) all the animals. I am bringing this matter to others to see what we can do,” she wrote in Friday email to Goodale and his boss, Department of Environmental Management Director Bobby Jean Leithead-Todd. She wrote that her volunteers have provided other services such as “cutting back in certain areas the overgrown grass” and bringing to the county’s attention “those going in to this property to sell and use illegal drugs on the tarmac area, hunting and the placement of animal snares (which we dismantled and brought to the Humane Society attention and Shipmans office).” She wrote that her group’s actions have “stopped such malefic human behavior from accelerating and kept a safe environment for humans and animals alike.”
Her email also stated that her group “at no cost to the county brought in live humane pig traps … and removed the sick and injured pigs that were running in a herd across the transfer station during operation hours.”
“I have had a few of your workers in confidence … say how much they appreciate all we do, as in the past the area was depressing to come to work and see the misery of sick and starving animals,” Pueo wrote.
She added that transfer stations are a breeding ground for rats and that the cats provide a useful service by reducing or eliminating the rodent population.
“There is no rat population at the transfer station right now,” she said, and added that would change if the cat colony is removed.
Goodale’s office phone had a message on Friday stating he would be out until Tuesday, and the Tribune-Herald was also unable to reach him at home. A call to Leithead-Todd early Friday afternoon wasn’t returned in time for this story.
Kimo Lee, Shipman’s director of development, described the clause prohibiting the feeding of feral animals as a “standard” lease provision.
“We’ve got a nene population out here and other things to be considered,” he said. “We don’t want feral animals on our property, period. Cats, dogs, rats, pigs, anything. It’s not specific to cats. We don’t want feral animals on our property, just like on your property. They’re free to take the cats. They’re free to take them anywhere they want to.”
Email John Burnett at email@example.com.