Under state law, abandoning an animal, including by trapping and relocating the animal, is a crime punishable by up to one year in jail and a $2,000 fine, said Emily Drose, community cat coordinator for the Maui Humane Society.
Drose said there are products and methods people can use to make the ground less attractive to cats to keep them from digging, defecating and urinating.
“Nobody should have to have cats on their property if they don’t want cats on their property,” Russell said. “That is an OK opinion to have. It’s how it’s executed. The wrong way is to harm them. The wrong way is to trap them and move them. The right way is to change their behavior with the use of deterrents. Cats are habitual and it doesn’t happen overnight.”
By dumping cats in another location, “you’re never going to fix the problem” because other cats will move in, Drose said.
As part of the effort to control the island’s cat population, which is estimated at 40,000, she said the Maui Humane Society offers free spaying and neutering for community cats and low-cost spaying and neutering for pet cats. Last year was a record-breaking year, she said, with more than 4,000 cats spayed or neutered.
The organization supports the method of trapping, neutering or spaying, then returning cats to their locations.
“Spaying and neutering is the proven way you can reduce those nuisance behaviors. It’s not my goal to get people to like cats. It’s to help the community get the population under control by doing it humanely.”