November 14, 2007

A man shoots a feral cat that was stalking endangered shore birds.

And he is on trial now, facing 2 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
[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.

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.
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.

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.)


Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I don't know, it seems to me a guy going around shooting a gun in an area visited by 500,000 people a year seems to be more of a menace. Are there no animal control officers that he could contact?

Bob said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bob said...

This was briefly in the news recently. Jimmeh's always encountering these dangerous little furry animals...


Balfegor said...

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.

Ah, yes . . .

It is said that in Ulthar, which lies beyond the river Skai, no man may kill a cat

rhhardin said...

The average house cat takes one songbird a day, if let outside.

The natural balance problem comes not from rare songbirds but from the fact that housecats are fed even though birds become scarce, and so do not themselves become scarce to allow birds to recover when birds diminish.

Roosters seem to survive against at least well-fed cats. At least this group has remained at seven regardless.

Swifty Quick said...

From jump I'm not buying the premise that he shot the cat to save the environment. People who like cats could never shoot one, but others, meanwhile, who don't like cats have no problem with shooting them. Some even get off on it. That's what's going on here.

There are other ways to save the birds and the cats.

DaLawGiver said...

The man should have kept his cat on a leash.

Unknown said...

Yes, it's important to note that there are people out there that hate cats. Some would gladly hunt them in suburban backyards if they thought they could get away with it.

Why not call animal control? If it was right to get rid of the animal, then why shoot it? So no one would have the opportunity to disagree? Eh.

I kind of feel about this the way I feel about medical marijuana. Sure, there's probably real medical need. But most people just want to get high. Examine their true intentions.

Kevin said...

Is there any actual evidence that Mr. Stevenson got off on killing cats? Or are you just making this up? The whole article is very clear about his stated and obvious motive - to protect wild birds.

What is absurd is the sentimentalism about protecting cats, dogs and other animals from being put down just because they are pets to some people, regardless of good reasons for getting rid of the nuisance that they may cause in certain circumstances.

For Mr. Stevenson, and for the hundreds of homeowners and landowners who may have to deal with predatorial cats in the future, the course is now clear - shoot, shovel and shut up.

ricpic said...

The minute one denies that man has dominion over the beasts, that very minute one lowers man to the level of the beasts...with the inevitable consequences.

JohnAnnArbor said...

It's similar to the attitude against hunting deer or bears in areas where they have become abundant to the point of destroying crops or starving for lack of food. "Oh, but they're cute!"

no one said...

This is a case about the ecological balance ...

Is it? On what legal basis would Stevenson rest his claim to be the judge of what constitutes ecological balance? Is ecological balance achieved by individuals acting independently in what they deem to be the best interest of the local ecosystem?

Pollution is a much greater threat to shore birds than a feral cat. Would Stevenson be able to make the same argument of seeking ecological balance if he were to use his .22 rifle on local polluters?

Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) said...

A .22 slug can travel up to a mile, so he shoulda used a .410 -- better chance to get the cat, the load doesn't travel nearly as far, and there's little risk of ricochet.

Cats (feral and semi-feral) are varmints. Our rural dogs know to nail any cat that isn't ours, so it saves on ammo.

By the way, I'm very fond of cats -- like 'em way better than dogs -- but I don't have the slightest hesitation about greasing one of the little bastards if it's even remotely feral.

JohnAnnArbor said...

Pollution is a much greater threat to shore birds than a feral cat.

Based on what?

Kirk Parker said...

"Why not call animal control?"

Ah, another dispatch from the Growing Professionalization of Everything.

LutherM said...

On this issue, I could not disagree with you more.
What IS your legal theory - "The honky owns the place, he can shoot what he wants"?
Is it "Cats kill birds, and that's just not right"? (As Jake said, "Isn't it pretty to think so.")
(Just a clue - falcons also kill birds. Should they also be fit targets for the trigger-happy ? )
Is the shooting of small, defenseless, loved animals "implicit in the concept of ordered liberty," ?

PatCA said...

I completely agree with Ann. This is do-goodism run amock, an an apt illustration of the Big Lie that the balance of nature will happen all on its own if only horrible homo sapiens didn't exist.

former law student said...

First, feral cat lovers are crazy. The NY Times had an article a couple of weeks ago about the cat colony at Kennedy Airport. The airport tried to humanely trap the cats and remove them from the airport. But feral cat lovers were springing the traps to prevent capture.

Food left for the cats was attracting gulls and other scavengers near the runway. Birds sucked into the engines during takeoff have caused crashes, thus keeping your airport bird-free is a good idea. But even airline employees, who you would presume would be sensitive to the whole food-bird-crash cycle, were caught on video leaving food for the cats. No one has really explained why an airport needs a feral cat colony.

I wonder if the defendant had tried humane traps at first. I would not shoot a cat as a first resort, but because the kind-hearted loons in the airport example kept springing the humane traps, shooting might be the only effective control means.

Second, because the toll collector admitted ownership of the cat, ideally he would be prosecuted in federal court for violating the endangered species act, by knowingly or recklessly allowing his pet to kill endangered birds.

jimbino said...

There is a lot of mis-information being shared here. I live and trap cats here in Austin, the home of the Texas Bleeding Hearts and, as an animal lover, I bemoan both the keeping of animals by humans and the fact that Austin kills 4500 cats here every year.

One fact is that cats will stalk and kill birds even if they are well fed, because of their hunting instinct. Another fact is that it is illegal to let a cat run free here, as the law clearly states, "All small animals must be caged," with no exception made for cats. Another fact is that animal control will not come out to pick up a trapped cat, only a dog or an animal of any kind who is injured, sick or rabid.

That leaves me with a serious problem. Any cat I catch I have to take to the pound, expending my gas and over a half hour of my time without compensation. While the city charges fees of between $60 and $100 to return a cat to its owner or to adopt it out, they give me nothing. My intent, the next time I turn in a cat who is claimed, is to sue the city and the owner for my expenses in quantum meruit.

Over the past 20 years that I have been trapping cats, only about two out of dozens have been reclaimed, so in quantum meruit I would logically deserve compensation from the city and the owner of some twenty times the expenses of returning any particular cat that ends up being claimed or adopted.

If I should lose my quantum meruit case, my best alternative is to take or send the cats to be killed in Mexico or one of our adjoining states, where killing any cat is totally legal, or to Wisconsin, where they can legally be hunted! There is, as yet, no Texas law prohibiting "transporting animals across state lines to be killed."

To resolve this conundrum, I have appealed in vain to the local "animal-loving" bleeding hearts to help set up some kind of system, like Craigslist posting, that will enable found animals to be redeemed for a price, easy to set up for those wearing collars or with radio tags, though it appears that would not solve the problem in the case of the overwhelming number of feral cats or owner-less domesticated cats like the one at issue here.

Gary Carson said...

Texas has some history about killing cats that caused the change in law.

When I was kid in Texas, long ago, I killed a rattlesnake and displayed him by shoving his throat down the radio antenna on my 54 Chevy.

A few years ago there was big uproar when a Waco high school student did the same thing with feral cat.

I was living in Austin at the time and the animal rights nutcases of Austin went even more nuts than usual about that one. It eventually lead to a change in the laws about cat killing.

As for animal control, I don't think there is a county level animal control anywhere in Texas. It's a city function and if you live outside the city limits there is no animal control. (I used to date an animal control officer in Port Aransas).

MadisonMan said...

How much is this prosecution costing the good citizens of Texas, I wonder.

Re: hunting cats in Wisconsin. I believe the bill authorizing that died.

Bissage said...

The best way to deal with the feral cat problem is to have Mr. Scott beam them all over to the Klingon ship where there’ll be no tribble at all.

Richard Dolan said...

This case unintentionally throws lots of cross-currents running through environmentalism into sharp relief. Ann dismisses as "sentimentalism" Texas's apparent preference for cats over songbirds, at least to the extent of prohibiting anyone from killing cats to stop them from eating the birds. As used here, "sentimentalism" seems to be just a pejorative term to dismiss whatever aesthetic or other values have motivated Texas to prefer cats over songbirds. Rather than "sentimentalism," Ann says that the better value here should be "ecological balance" and "protect[ing] the environment."

Perhaps. But "sentimentalism" -- projecting a value, often an aesthetic one, onto some aspect of the natural world, and then intervening to maintain that aspect of the world from any changes that other natural processes might otherwise bring about -- is what environmentalism is all about. Before the Nixon Administration gave us the Environmental Protection Agency, these sorts of things were more often the province of poets and painters than lawyers and courts. But, whether cast as poetry or legal argument, the underying reality is the same: If we didn't routinely project such values on to aspects of the natural world, there would be no basis to prefer one landscape (say, the Grand Canyon) to another (the Jersey marshlands, home to oil refineries beyond count). It also explains the strange idea that, say, Niagara Falls is a natural wonder, when in fact it is as carefully managed and maintained (to the point of shutting off the Falls periodically to rebuild the cliffs) as Disneyland. The Forest Service has been doing similar stuff, all in the name of environmentalism, for decades, frequently with disastrous results.

Towards the end of her post, Ann switches gears and offers an economic argument against what Texas is doing. People like pretty landscapes and chirping songbirds, and pay lots of money to enjoy them. On this argument, the better balance between competing values (sentimentalism for cats vs. ecological balance protecting the songbirds) would rationally follow the result that the market would generate under ideal conditions -- the lovers of pretty landscapes and chirping songbirds would buy out the cat lovers, so that they and their cats would be relocated out of the "delicate environment" that the cats would otherwise degrade. Everyone wins. That no such market transaction occurs is beside the point; it's just an effort to determine which competing value should prevail, applying a utilitarian scale. Economic (really, democratic) arguments of that sort strike me as persuasive. But environmentalists don't usually warm up to them, as their reaction to Bjorn Lomborg's work shows.

Trooper York said...

I think the cat had a hair brush, that would explain it.

Anonymous said...

Seems to me a cat, or any animal, that is not constrained to a house, yard or cage, is not truly a "pet" but rather something else entirely. And its "owner" is being other than responsible. Bleeding hearts would have all animals under any conditions be sacrosanct.

My pit bull wanders the neighborhood and eats your toddler? So sorry. Too many toddlers anyway.

Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) said...

There are something in excess of 50 million feral cats in the US. We're not talking about Aunt Susie's precious little moggie. At a minimum, they're a nuisance animal.

Ann ... could you give us a brief discourse on common law as it relates to nuisance? If the neighbor's pet goat is chewing on my fruit tree graftlings ... it's gonna end up in a curry, and we'll sort out cui bono later.

That said, the larger issue is that there are already way too many "crimes" in America -- we need fewer damned laws, not more. Offing feral cats is as good a place as any to start.

former law student said...

Let's apply dolan's argument to the case of the homeless man defecating in front of hordes of holiday shoppers in Union Square, San Francisco:

On this argument, the better balance between competing values (freedom to defecate vs. shoppers' desire not to be subjected to the production of human feces) would rationally follow the result that the market would generate under ideal conditions -- the lovers of tidy parks and haters of public defecators would buy out the homeless defecators, so that they and their feces would be relocated out of the "delicate environment" that the turd producers would otherwise degrade. Everyone wins.

Yeah, that would work -- provided the homeless people were rational. Which they, and the feral cat lovers, are not.

DaLawGiver said...

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.

So if you name and feed the birds and build them a birdhouse are they then considered your pets?

What a waste of taxpayer money.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

"The whole article is very clear about his stated and obvious motive - to protect wild birds"

I wonder if he feeds the wild birds and is thereby guilty of upsetting the balance of nature?

I'm willing to bet that he has been feeding and encouraging the birds to linger near his property: creating an attractive nuisance that the cat just couldn't ignore. :-)

If he truly felt that the cat, by eating a bird or two or moving the bird coveys that his clients were watching from his locality were harming his business or upsetting the ecology, he could have gotten a cage trap and moved the animal out of his area. That would have solved his problem .....temporarily.....until the next feral cat or pet cat wandered into the area.

It seems pretty clear that his motivation for killing cats was not to maintain the econolgical balance of nature, but rather greedy self interest: to keep his bread and butter (bird watching customers) happy.

Gray said...

"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."

Uh, wait a minute, they have the "shoot first, question later" law. If its ok to kill any guy on your own property, shooting a stray cat certainly isn't any different?

Bruce Hayden said...

Well, I guess I am of the type who would shoot both the cats and the song birds, depending on the circumstances.

About 15 years ago, I was living in the mountains west of Denver, and had a bird and mouse problem. Both were pests, and I did in about the same number of both each year. The mice got the traps, and the birds my 12 gauge. Yes, a 4-10 would have been more sporting, but a 12 gauge was more certain.

The only outdoor cats we had in the neighborhood though were protected and it was live and let live, until and unless they started taking dogs, at which time, they became expendable. There is nothing like large predators (in this case cats and bears) to keep roving dogs, house cats, and deer in check.

jeff said...

A feral cat is not your pet cat. And if you have a female feral cat, you will soon have many many feral catsif someone lets their Tom wander around outside. They will kill pretty much whatever they can, because that's what they do. My cat never goes outside, but she goes into full blown stalk mode when she sees a bird on a window ledge. It's what they do. If a cat looked like a mangy possum, we wouldn't be having this discussion.

Sigivald said...

Tim Sisk: The fact that half a million people a year visit the "area" does not make shooting a gun a "menace".

The only way shooting a gun is a menace is if there are people downrange when it is fired. Given no reason to believe he was reckless or endangered anyone by being unaware of or disregarding their presence downrange, that's a complete wash.

rhhardin: Where do you get that idea? In my experience the "average" housecat doesn't kill birds very often at all, let alone one a day it's outside - if only because they're not actually very good at hunting them, being housecats.

(Perhaps you mean that the ones that are good at it make the average closer to one per cat per day, but that's not what ended up being said.)

On the original topic, I'm not sure it's any more "sentimental" to protect an endangered bird species than to protect cats.

What, other than sentiment, makes a species of bird worth preserving either?

Nothing, that I've seen - not that I disagree with the sentiment. I just admit it's sentiment rather than any real utility or inherent value that a particular species of non-thriving (thus endangered) shore-bird happens to hold.

lurker2209 said...

I don't think that merely naming and feeding a feral cat is enough to establish ownership. The minimum standard should be to put a collar on the cat with the cat's name and the owner's contact information and to have the cat spayed or neutered. Then if you had a problem with the cat eating native birds or digging up your yard, you'd know who to contact to complain to. Ownership of an animal implies taking responsibility for it and requires that you make obvious your responsibility for the animal.

Unknown said...

Speaking of birds and "watching":

We live on a canyon and can't let the cat out because the hawks will swoop down and carry her away.

We've watched them dive bomb the dog, too, but he's evidently a tad large for transport.(100 lb. Lab)

Trooper York said...

Wow Lucky, you have a cat and a dog. I hope they get along. I wouldn't want to ref any dustups.

Unknown said...

rhhardin said..."The average house cat takes one songbird a day, if let outside."

I've had cats all my life (sometimes 3 at a time) and I've never experienced that kind of killing. (Newts, mice and even rats, but a bird a day?)

Maybe you just have really s-l-o-w songbirds hanging out around your house.

Maybe if you were to whip them into better shape...

Unknown said...

I have no idea what you're talking about. I've always had both and they've always gotten along quite well.

Do you own any pets?

jeff said...

We had a cat in my youth that was quite the insane hunter. She killed birds, rats, mice, bunnies, whatever, and left the heart or something on our doorstep. I don't remember if she ran away, to fulfill her serial killer destiny, or if she got hit by a car.

Trooper York said...

Only dogs and they loved to chase cats, squirrels and every other animal that they could find. Although I only owned Dalmatians and they are very nervous and crazy so it could be the breed and not a universal fact. I couldn't imagine having a dog and a cat together, isn't there something about that in the bible......sort of like a liberal and a conservative living together.

Unknown said...

My dog's a liberal. The cat's undecided.

Unknown said...

I'd say it was 10-1 a car took it out.

Chip Ahoy said...

Kill the wabbit. Kill the wabbit. stop.

I love the picture of the cat.
That puts me on the cat's side right off. Of course the cat is dead, and in cat court one could sue for wrongful death.
I saw a cat nail a bird once, a whole group of kids watched mesmerized until suddenly leap and an explosion of feathers. We examined the pile of feathers. Once is probably enough but I do hope to relive that precious moment. My friend belled his cat to give birds a chance, now there's a cruelty for you, so then the cat learned to drag the bell through dirt to clog it since he couldn't get rid of it outright then continued birding.

Another friend's cat brought in a mouse during a party. The hostess freaked out all over the place -- instead of thanking it. If the B&B owning ornithologist Stevenson cared so much for Galveston Gulf Coast fauna wouldn't he encourage some cat stalking critter and enjoy observing that? We have bears come right up to peoples' patios just a few miles from where I live. Home owners keep their cats in to protect them from predation and get out their cameras when bears, or elk, or deer, or porcupines, or skunks, or eagles, or hummingbirds, raccoons or whatever wildlife take up residence nearby.

I forgot bats.

But mustn't import species to do the job. Maui is now overrun by mongoose introduced in a failed effort to control rats which were also introduced.

Mr Stevenson is rather reckless with guns. He should be made to take a firearms handling class.

Unknown said...

There's a difference between an unconfined cat and a feral cat. The cat I had most of my youth was bought in a store or pound (don't recall which), was spayed, regularly taken to the vet, spent the night in the garage, always had dry food and water, given some canned food in the mornings, wore a collar with name and contact information, and was allowed outdoors. She came in an out of the house whenever someone was around to open the door for her. Sure, probably illegal, and she probably killed a number of birds when she wasn't spending most of the day sleeping on the porch, but she wasn't feral. And she was a beloved pet until she was killed by coyotes. So...maybe she got nature's comuppance there.

Unknown said...

I should also mention, that if I get another cat(s) they will be kept indoors. Merely so that they are more convenient for the petting and the playing and smooches.

jeff said...

I'd say it was 10-1 a car took it out."

Sadly, probably so. Myself and my sister were of the young age where pets didn't get hit by cars, they ran away to a farm where they could frolic in the sun all day long. It wasn't until a few years later that I found out why my dad never planted anything (that grew, anyway) on the SW corner of our lot.
(At the time, the house was located on the far east side of town and there was a lot of wildlife that didn't make it across that road. I think my mother made my dad move them out of the road.)

Dust Bunny Queen said...

"We live on a canyon and can't let the cat out because the hawks will swoop down and carry her away."

Me too. Our cat (female and spayed) is pretty small and once had been grabbed by a raptor or more likely Great Horned Owl, judging by the punctures on her back. The Blue Jays and Cooper Hawks also torment she deserves. I figure the big birds can handle themselves and the hundreds of greedy quail and white cap sparrows, who we are feeding 25 pounds of seed a week, can stand some attrition.

However, if I wanted to get rid of feral cats, instead of shooting and maiming, I would do as my neighbor does. Use a cage trap (catch and release to animal control) for cats, foxes, skunks (eewww), raccoons, and once a bobcat. The cougars are too big to trap so we leave them alone.

Anonymous said...

Sig: Given the fact that he used a rifle (even a .22) where the average range is better than a mile rather than a shotgun (of any size) says that he is a menace. A shotgun is the best home self defense weapon period because of the range of rifled bullets. If he wanted to kill the cat, whatever his reasons, he should have used another weapon.

And its not like there isn't animal control that is employed by the county for just such a reason, you know, to control animals.

Its reckless people like this guy that drive the anti-gun types crazy, which makes us gun owning types mighty nervous.

jeff said...

Tim, why? If he has a backdrop, no issues. If it's flat or he is shooting below the target then there's a problem. We shoot small varmints in north central Kansas all the time with a .22. You just have to always be aware of your backdrop and what is down range. The issue isn't that he was reckless in using a .22, but that he is either a poor shot, or not responsible enough to make sure the cat was actually dead after he shot it.
From the story, it appears he popped the cat and never checked it. There's your irresponsible gun play.

Anonymous said...

He's on a island. With 500,000 plus visitors. He can't see a mile. He's not in a deer stand shooting down. A rifle isn't the best choice of weapon and was reckless to use.

If you are shooting a rifle in an area as small as the island he was on with as many people that visit it, then you are being reckless when you are varmit hunting too.

And he still could have called Animal Control.

Anonymous said...

I should add that I think the fine and the possible jail time are overkill, in my opinion.

Mainly I'm just picking a fight with Ann over who's the menace. Relatively speaking, I think the shooter is more a menace than the toll bridge worker.

Unknown said...

Deprived of his liberty?

Yes - when you kill, that's what usually happens thank goodness.

This man should fry.

Trumpit said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
jeff said...

"He's on a island." Yes, I know. But if he has a backstop he doesn't need to see a mile down range. He has to see between himself and the backstop and I see nothing in the story to indicate he didn't have one. Otherwise I would agree with you.
We used to shoot down into a depression made by a farm pond. If we missed our target the bullets went into the earthen damn. The police dept gun range used to be a located 1/2 mile from the airport. They had a 20 foot berm to shot into. They couldn't see over the 20 foot berm, so they had no idea what was a mile away. How far you suppose a shotgun slug can travel? The story doesn't supply any information to make a definitive argument that he was reckless in his choice of weapon.
If he shot at the cat with the bridge downrange, then absolutely he was the menace. There was a case out of Miami a number of years ago where a guy shot at a coke can in the ocean with a .22. The bullet skipped off of the water and traveled over a mile, entered a car thru the space of a back window that was cracked a couple of inches and struck the driver in the temple, killing him instantly. Always, always, always be aware of what's downrange. I just don't see that in this story.

jeff said...

Looks like the shooting was last November. Not that many people there that time of the year. On the other hand, I have driven that bridge before. It has been a few years, but I seem to remember the land underneath as mud flats. If that is correct, then I withdraw my defense of the .22.

Barbara Hurley said...

Human actions are the primary cause of the decline of this bird. Just type in piping plovers and you'll see what I mean. Killing cats is not the answer.What do you want to do Mr. Stevenson??; kill all the people too??? I'm both a cat lover and a bird lover and I hope you eventualy realize that your senseless murder of that lovely cat, also one of Gods' creatures was a terrible waste. You've probably caused more damage to the bird population than any cat could ever do. Tell your good intention birdwatchers to stay the Heck away from their feeding and nesting grounds, they're the ones that are threatening their existence.

Richard Fagin said...

Texas Penal Code sec. 42.09(a) states (brief version) an offense if a person intentionally or knowingly: (1) tortures an animal; (5) kills or seriously injures an animal without the owner's consent; or (9) injures an animal without the owner's consent. Unless the animal is cattle, goats, horses, sheep or swine. I can kill or injure those all day long and not be charged with animal cruelty. Gotta love Texas.

So, if the shooter is being charged with animal cruelty, the state has to show: (1) shooting the animal to kill it is torture; or (2) the complaining witness owned the feral cat. (1) would be kinda tough given that hunting is legal, so shooting per se is not torture. If the ADA is trying to prove cruelty by killing or injuring without the owner's consent, given that the killing is not in dispute, bringing in evidence of the animal suffering before death is inflammatory and probably is grounds for a mistrial.

Discharging a firearm is only a possible violation of a city ordinance, or may be charged as disorderly conduct (Penal Code 42.01(a)(7).). Hell that's only a class B misdemeanor. No 2 years in prison for that, only 180 days in jail! Even the worst animal cruelty charge is only a class A misdemeanor (1 year in jail).

I think our Galveston County assistan DA went to the Mike Nifong School of Criminal Prosecution.

Barbara Hurley said...

Thanks for all of the technical jargon, Richard Fagin. It appears you are looking at this strictly from a legal standpoint which is the purpose of the trial. But, from a humanatarian standpoint, Mr. Stevenson should not be allowed to take this into his own hands. Again, the primary cause of the decline of the piping plovers is by human actions. Development of the coastal regions where these birds reside

Unknown said...

Tim Sisk said..."Sig: Given the fact that he used a rifle (even a .22) where the average range is better than a mile..."

A mile?

former law student said...

But, from a humanatarian standpoint, Mr. Stevenson should not be allowed to take this into his own hands. Again, the primary cause of the decline of the piping plovers is by human actions.

So all other causes of the decline of endangered species are A-OK? If you were dying of heart failure, you wouldn't mind if I broke your arms and legs?

Cats are non-native predators. Cat lovers should consider that feral cats can spread disease, such as distemper, to owned cats, as well as decimating the songbird and rodent population.

former law student said...

los - a .22 bullet can go a mile, but it will be completely spent. A shotgun is probably a better choice for flat country, having a killing range of only about 40 yards.

As a point of interest, after it's skinned and the head cut off, a rabbit looks a lot like a cat.

Revenant said...

Deprived of his liberty? Yes - when you kill, that's what usually happens thank goodness. This man should fry.

Self-parody... or not?

You be the judge.

Douglas said...

Just to be clear, the San Louis pass is one of two bridges off the island, so to say that it wasn't a safety concern to shoot any weapon is absurd. There are lots of people fishing, swimming, and doing what people do on the beach in the near vicinity.

Also, the last time I was under that bridge (I'm a Galvestonian) I saw about ten cats, feral or not, hanging out doing what cats do. It's pretty obvious that someone at the tollbooth was giving them something, or there was a near infinite supply of the dumbest birds on the planet nearby.

So as misguided as his actions were (if you see it that way), nothing will change unless he kills ALL the cats, or the guy in the toll booth that's feeding them.