[James M.] Stevenson, 54, does not deny using a .22-caliber rifle fitted with a scope to kill the cat, which lived under the San Luis Pass toll bridge, linking Galveston to the mainland. He also admits killing many other cats on his own property, where he operates a bed and breakfast for some of the estimated 500,000 birders who come to the island every year.It seems to me that Newland is the greater menace, encouraging a nonnative predator in a delicate environment. The idea that this destructive behavior creates ownership is outrageous.
In her opening statement, Paige L. Santell, a Galveston County assistant district attorney, told the jury of eight women and four men that Mr. Stevenson “shot that animal in cold blood” and that the cat died a slow and painful death “gurgling on its own blood.”
She said that the cat had a name, Mama Cat, and that though the cat lived under a toll bridge, she was fed and cared for by a toll collector, John Newland. He is expected to testify.
Whether the cat was feral is the crucial point in this case. Mr. Stevenson was indicted under a state law that prohibited killing a cat “belonging to another.”...
Ms. Santell argued that because Mr. Newland had named, fed and given the cat bedding and toys, the cat belonged to him and was not feral.
But Texas has moved in the other direction and has changed the law, so that in the future, it is a crime to kill any cat. What absurd sentimentalism about species! The birds are native and endangered. The cats are highly effective predators. And Stevenson has a productive business, which Newland was undermining.
This isn't about whether we love birds or cats more. The article portrays the trial as a charmingly colorful face-off between bird lovers and cat lovers and ends with the punchline "But you see, I’m a dog person... If he had shot a dog, then I’d be more upset."
This is a case about the ecological balance, and a man could be deprived of his liberty because he tried protect the environment (and his business that depended on it).
ADDED: A propos of the stalking cat, here's a stalking man coming in through the cat door. And meeting death. (Via James Taranto, who's mixing up the Turtles and the Lovin' Spoonful.)