Saturday, June 9, 2001

University of Hawaii professor David Karl stands by his
"stray cats" wall hanging in his office. Karl, who has been
feeding stray cats on campus for 10 years, said he confronted
a man with a gun who said he was going to shoot cats.

UH security says
1 responsible for
cat shootings

Security believes the person
lives in a UH dorm because that
is where attacks begin and end

By Lisa Asato

University of Hawaii security says someone is hunting down and shooting feral cats on the Manoa campus.

Campus Security is investigating one case of cruelty to animals after a professor reportedly chased off an unidentified man shooting at a colony of cats on May 31. They say it was not an isolated incident.

"There are probably 10 or 15 incidences of cats being shot or maimed in one way or another, but nobody saw anything happen to them," said Capt. Donald Dawson, head of University of Hawaii Campus Security. "Put two and two together, somebody is shooting cats."

Dawson has heard multiple reports of attacks from people who spend their own money to feed, neuter, insert identifying microchips and care for the campus' feral cat population.

One of those reports came from oceanography professor David Karl, who was involved in the May 31 confrontation.

Karl said that on May 6 a cat was found dead near a parking lot, and a necropsy performed by a veterinarian found that "the cat had been shot and that the bullet had passed through the lungs and directly through the body."

For 10 years, Karl said, he has been among those caring for the cats, whose population he estimates at between 200 and 300. And what he has seen worries him.

"When you feed cats every night, you kind of know them by name," Karl said. "Over the last month we've been having two things happening: Cats have been disappearing, and cats have been showing up to eat with large wounds that get infected pretty quickly.

"With that information, in addition to other things going on, we kept a more vigilant eye and ear open on campus," he said.

Security has responded to three incidents since May 31, when Karl reported he was sitting in a car near the Gateway House dormitory when he saw a man less than 20 feet away aiming a 10- to 12-inch gun at a colony of cats. He told security he heard two shots.

Yesterday, Karl added that he confronted the man, who "was dressed in a flak jacket like some guy out on a murder mission."

"I approached him, started yelling at him, and he told me to calm down, he's only shooting cats or something like that."

Karl said the man started walking past the lower-campus dorms, then turned and fled Ewa toward the law school. He describes the man as 5-foot-10, 165 pounds, wearing a black jacket, black pants and black baseball cap.

Subsequent incidents, according to security logs, are:

>> June 1: At 10:37 p.m. security responded to an anonymous caller who said a man riding a red moped was shooting cats at Keller Hall and then fled Ewa toward the Campus Center.

>> June 4: At 10:55 p.m. another anonymous caller reported a man riding a moped may be shooting cats at Frear Hall and then was seen near Lokelani dorm.

Although descriptions of the male suspect differ somewhat in two cases, Dawson said: "I think it's the same person. I suspect he lives in the dorms because that's where (the activity reportedly) starts and ends."

Dawson said the last time attacks on feral cats flared up was in 1998, when Karl found cats with dartlike needles in their hindquarters.

Karl said "people see us as cat lovers," but in his case it is just the opposite. "I'm allergic to them to begin with. Cats belong indoors as people's pets. ... It's just like all non-native species: They're ruining the ecology."

But, Karl added, the most effective way to control the population is by controlling the birth rate.

"People just don't understand that's the way to solve most of the problems. If you started shooting cats as a means of eliminating the cats, it wouldn't work."

Eve Holt, spokeswoman for the Hawaiian Humane Society, said people should not take any act of cruelty to animals lightly because studies show many links between violence against animals and violence against people.

"We strongly encourage anyone who sees anyone trying to injure an animal to report it immediately to the Humane Society. We have a dispatcher 24 hours a day," she said. The Humane Society can be reached at 946-2187.

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