Free-ranging cats have long been on conservationists’ radar as a threat to native species in the sister islands.
Little Cayman residents said sister islands rock iguanas, booby birds, and other native fauna have seen their populations decimated by these invasive felines.
It may be the smallest of our three islands, but Little Cayman’s native wildlife is a big draw for visitors, and point of pride for residents.
National Trust Little Cayman chair Betty Bua-Smith said feral cats and free-ranging domestic cats have taken a bite out of some sensitive local populations.
“We have the lion lizard, the Jamaican anoles, our young iguanas, things that people always have seen for years around their homes,” said Ms. Bua-Smith. “People are coming to my office, ‘Betty what can we do?'”
One Little Cayman property owner who asked not to be identified sent Cayman 27 pictures of free-ranging cats near his condo.
“These cats seem to have effectively scrubbed the grounds of native Cayman animals because it’s what cats do” said that condo owner in an email.
High-flying frigate birds and other native avian species are also at risk.
“It’s mating season for our frigates and our boobies,” said Ms. Bua-Smith. “The young chicks, it won’t be long if something doesn’t happen, with all the cats, the feral cats that are running around the sanctuary here, they will be attacking them again.”
Last February, the Department of Environment and Department of Agriculture were poised to launch a cull on Little Cayman. That plan was shelved when two animal welfare organisations secured an injunction in the courts.
Ms. Bua-Smith fears time is running out for Little Cayman’s native wildlife.
“I do think that it could be brought under control sooner than later, before we end up having even less rock iguanas, the anoles, the lion lizards and so forth,” said Ms. Bua-Smith.
Last August, new prescribed poisons regulations were added to the Animals Law, which some believe closes a loophole used to block the cull.
The matter remains with the courts.