Feral Cat Association responds

If Mr. [Gerry] Atwell had given Island Feral Cat Association 10 bucks (the price of a raffle ticket), instead of his two cents in the form of a glaringly tired and flawed argument [“Feral cats on Islesboro,” letter to the editor in the March 17 edition], we would have a little more money to help another cat — and some birds.

A huge point he misses is that organizations like ours are making inroads and reducing the numbers of feral cats because we catch them. And then — one cat at a time — we have them neutered/spayed so they cannot reproduce exponentially.

He says we have unwittingly “created an artificial population of an exotic and extremely efficient predator… ” [Does he think] we are out here on the rock in our white coats Frankensteining cats? The cats were here already, Mr. Atwell, and it doesn’t take a degree in wildlife biology to know why they are here, there and everywhere.

The scientist [Mr. Atwell] cites a British study, and says that the havoc cats wreak make it “[b]ad news all around.”

[A search on Google for] “what kills birds” will give you another staggering tally. It is true that cats aren’t a bird’s best friend, but there are other mundane, less predatory things that diminish the bird population. Like windows (in your house and in your car), communication towers, power lines and agriculture.

It’s bad news all around for the cats we help, too. And the problems of both birds and cats are directly traceable to choices humans have made. So what to do? Since the well-meaning folk of IFCA do not share a cat’s genetic composition to hunt and kill, [as described by Mr. Atwell], we have organized a successful trap, neuter and release program. We have taken action after years of being troubled by a problem that our community has historically ignored, taken a rifle to or been too overwhelmed to approach.

Our work is making a difference in ending the overpopulation and suffering of homeless cats on Islesboro. The cats we catch are not giving birth to kittens who give birth to kittens who give birth to more and more and more kittens. And, then, abracadabra, there are [more] birds at your feeder!

Mr. Atwell, are you sure you don’t want to buy a raffle ticket? In addition to the two tickets to the musical “Cats,” you also get a night at the Holiday Inn, $50 for dinner, $25 for gas money and breakfast.

Lisa Satchfield

Board member,

Island Feral Cat Association

Islesboro

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Agrees with Atwell

Gerry Atwell was correct in his letter re.: feral cats [“Feral cats on Islesboro,” letter to the editor in the March 17 edition]. These are not just some lost kitties but true wild animals that can devastate an area and leave nothing for predator birds to eat. They are especially destructive on an island.

The average lifespan for a feral cat is only about two years because of fighting, cold, starvation, disease, etc., and no one is doing them any favors by neutering them or feeding them, any more than you can feed and neuter any other wild animals to solve a problem.

They are proficient hunters and breeders and it’s sad that this situation has developed. Prolonging their lives serves no purpose and is harmful to the bird population.

Harold Richardson

Belfast and Strafford, N.H.

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Atwell responds to Crimaudo

Ms. Anne Crimaudo of the Searsport Animal Fund Endowment commented in a letter to the editor on March 24 [“Killing is not the answer”] about my letter of March 17 [“Feral cats on Islesboro”] regarding maintenance of at least 260 feral cats on Islesboro.

Ms. Crimaudo mentions that human activities frequently destroy or [damage] wildlife habitat and I agree, but that makes the remaining habitat all the more valuable and it should be treated as such. Managing and maintaining an alien super-predator population on an island or anywhere is not ecologically sound.

Domestic cats are fine animals: they bring joy and comfort to countless people and are beautiful to look at; however, once they step out the front door, whether just fed or not, they immediately switch to the hunting mode because that’s their heritage and they have no control over it. Remember the curved retractable claws, the sharp pointed teeth, excellent vision, hearing and smell plus muscles that provide flash movements. Without a doubt, cats stand out amongst predators as very efficient killing machines — that’s how they have evolved, and marvelously so.

Many millions of dollars are being spent to control introduced exotics because of the ways they seriously impact native wildlife. A few examples are: Pythons in Florida, Asian carp along the Mississippi River, the mongoose in Hawaii, and the lionfish in the Caribbean. Why continue this destructive process, even on a much smaller scale, on Islesboro?

Life is not like a warm, fuzzy and happy Disney animal movie. Everything alive dies at some point. Instead of perpetuating a mistake (raising an exotic predator population), those who may be concerned about what to tell their children should just explain the truth: Some mean people abandoned their cats so these animals had to live on their own in the woods, fields and brush of Islesboro. As their numbers grew from having young, kind people tried to help, but because cats must hunt, they are always after birds and small animals.

These wild animals and birds did not evolve with cats and are not as good at protecting themselves as if they had; consequently, many are killed. To stop this, and because the cats are not a natural part of the wildlife on Islesboro, we must remove them. They should be captured and put to sleep (euthanized, killed) by a veterinarian, and that way our wildlife population would return to a more normal situation.

This is the way I would explain it to my children — making it a green lesson about our environment.

I can’t help but wonder if the state Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife was ever consulted about this endeavor. I bet their first words would be, “You what?!”

I don’t like raining on your parade, but this poor decision should be rectified immediately.

Gerry Atwell

Wildlife biologist

Searsmont

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Not fans of the plans

The Waldo County Commissioners plan to erect a 10,500-square-foot building, in addition to a carport and parking slab of unspecified dimensions, behind the Sheriff’s Office on Congress Street. This building would house new Emergency Management Agency offices and the Sheriff’s Office.

To accomplish this, seven county accounts will be tapped to contribute to the needed $1.4 million; the historic two-story brick 1851 jail behind the current Sheriff’s Office will be demolished; the historic 1887 clapboard jail-keeper’s home, now the Sheriff’s Office, will go on the market; the 15-acre “green space” behind the building pad will be jeopardized by ground work and the establishment of swales to redirect water flow; the 100-acre parcel beyond the Belfast Business Park, bought specifically for the development of the Sheriff’s and related law enforcement/judicial buildings, will not be used, though we will continue to have our tax dollars applied to maintaining this unused county property; and traffic flow, lights and noise patterns will increase in what is now a residential neighborhood.

This project raises more questions than we have received answers. To start, how can a state of-the-art complex of such proportions cost “only” $1.4 million? State of-the-art for less than $135 a square foot? Why are we spending these monies during a recession? Where’s the money going to come from to re-fund the county accounts that are being tapped for this project? Why have the commissioners abandoned the plan to use the 100-acre parcel which cost us taxpayers $356,000 to buy — and which we’re still paying for?

And, if paying and paying and paying doesn’t bother you, here are some more questions that need answers. How can one replace historic architecture once destroyed? What happens to a “green space,” once altered? Why put county offices in a residential neighborhood that has Historic District status?

We think the sheriff deserves a new office. We think the EMA deserves the best. We don’t think the residents of Waldo County should fund this plan — not here, not now, and certainly not in this way.

Leslie Umans

Fred Eickelberg

Brooks

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Events center supporters

Do you really support events? Where were all the people that stand in line at the City Council meetings wanting an events center for performances on last Saturday night, March 27? Were you standing in line at the Hutchinson Center to purchase a $10 ticket to help support the grassroots effort to hold the summer event of the Maine Celtic Celebration?

These hard-working volunteers produced a great three-hour show of music, dance and jokes. Even two musicians from Cape Bretton, Canada, came to offer their support. They were all there to support this July event that is free for all to attend,

After you take millions of tax dollars from the city of Belfast for your events center, will the cost of the tickets at those events be $10, so the average Waldo County resident can afford to attend?

Are you really interested in events in Belfast, or only promoting your self-interest at taxpayers’ expense?

Audrey M. Deveney

Belfast

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Proud to live in Montville

I want to congratulate my town of Montville for overwhelmingly passing its wind ordinance by a 90 to [39] vote at the town meeting on Saturday March 27.

The developers of industrial wind “farms” will now have to dot their i’s and cross their t’s before installing these monstrosities and neighbors will not be allowed to sell out to these greedy developers without the consent of other neighbors who might be negatively affected. It also protects our rights to install reasonably sized wind turbines to power our homes.

As one who attended meetings for three months as an observer, I also want to thank the the subcommittee who put in easily over 2,000 hours of research about this issue so that they could come up with an ordinance that was fair and balanced for all the citizens of Montville.

Bob Brooks
Montville

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My husband’s battle with Lyme disease

Months ago, I submitted a letter to the editor thanking this community (filled with our friends and loved ones) for their support in our heartbreaking journey through Lyme disease.

My husband was diagnosed with advanced-stage Lyme disease in August 2009. His life came to a standstill. His body was in so much pain that he could do nothing but lie flat on his back in tears. He could not use his eyes for months, for fear that he would fall from extreme vertigo.

All of this began to change after he met one man, Dr. Richard Dubocq. This letter is a public thank-you to a man who treated my husband like a human being, like a person who mattered. He listened to every symptom, every ache and pain that my husband needed to tell him about in order for him to teat him properly.

So many times in our too-busy society we are just a number and we are rushed out the door to meet the quest for quantity, not quality. This doctor is different. Eric was the only patient he thought about while he was sitting in his office. This doctor deserves public recognition for his dedication to my husband and to all of his patients. Richard Dubocq is a healer. We as a community, as a state, are so fortunate to have a doctor who can and does treat this debilitating, life-altering disease.

Thank you, Richard Dubocq, from the very depths of my being for bringing my husband, Eric Harvey, back to the life he so greatly deserves. Dr. Dubocq, you are what medicine should stand for. Those of you in this community who know Eric and the progress he has made, do me one favor. Thank the Waldo County General Hospital for employing a doctor with the medical and ethical stature of Dr. Richard Dubocq.

Maura Salvatore Harvey

Belfast

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Gillway a good guy

Our district is lucky to have James Gillway as a candidate for the state Legislature. Searsport has been fortunate to have him as our highly capable town manger for the past five years. James will bring the same skills, integrity, fiscal responsibility, work ethic and broad range of knowledge to the state level.

His list of accomplishments is as long as the hours he works and the additional hours he gives to the volunteer groups he belongs to. James has been an exemplary public servant who takes those words literally. [He is also] a former trainer in Iraq and Searsport police chief; we in Searsport are lucky he decided to serve as our town manager.

James always presents a professional, calm demeanor, whether volunteering at a hot dog wagon or conducting a meeting with state officials. He has worked successfully with state agencies and knows how to find solutions to difficult problems through compromise. Sears Island is a good example of this.

James has remained accessible to everyone, always willing to listen and personally respond to concerns. Sadly, I cannot say the same about our current representative; although she is willing to listen, I have yet to receive a followup on any of my questions or concerns.

We cannot afford at such a critical time to have anything but the best possible person representing us in Augusta. Now, when so many people are dissatisfied with their government, be it local, state or federal, James Gillway represents the kind of person we need in government and is exactly the kind of person I want representing me.

Cindy Gallant

Searsport

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Bill would have benefited children, caregivers

LD 1624 [“An Act To Ensure Rights to Children for Caretaker Relatives”] was … voted ought not to pass [earlier this year]. However, this bill is crucial as it supports family cohesiveness. This bill allows relatives to petition the court for visitation of a child whom they have cared for and have a sufficient existing relationship [with]. The relationship is considered sufficient if the child has been left, without a good cause, in the sole financial care and physical custody of the relative for 18 months or longer. Currently, the law only grants grandparents the right to petition for visitation rights after a child has been returned to their home of origin.

Children form attachments with their caregivers and deserve the right to remain connected to those who have temporarily cared for them. It is necessary [that] a child does not experience a sense of abandonment once they have returned to their home of origin. The bond the child experiences with their caretaker relatives cannot be substituted.

Relative caregivers fulfill a role equivalent to that of the biological parents. Relatives take on this challenge out of love and desperation for their young family member. These relatives provide what all humans desire; affection and the basic necessities to survive. Providing this level of care requires dedication and selflessness.

Although John Bowlby’s secure base theory and attachment theory focus on infant-mother relationships, the same principles support the relationships developed between a relative caregiver and a child. All individuals develop representations of their own secure base experience. This allows individuals to explore and feel safe in their environment knowing they have protection.

Relationships formed with caregivers shape a child’s caring role model from their life. Regardless of when a child is returned to their home of origin, it is pertinent that consistency remain in their life. Disrupting a secure relationship is likely to affect a child’s self-confidence.

It is the responsibility of citizens to protect the future generation. Remember that children have little control over their young lives, and they depend on us to make the best decisions possible for them. In consideration of the best interests of children who are affected by these circumstances, I encourage voters to support LD 1624 in the future.

Cheyenne Cross

Belfast

Editor’s note: The writer works in a psychiatric group home in Bucksport and is a student in the University of Maine’s master’s of social work program.