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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2010

    Default Is It Legal to Poison Feral Cats or Nuisance Wildlife

    My question involves animal law for the State of: TX

    All I've found regarding the disposition of animals in Texas is this:

    Texas Health & Safety Code, Chapter 821 (Treatment & Disposition of Animals), Subchapter C. Requires all animals in animal shelters be euthanized in a humane manner with only one of two methods by a licensed veterinarian or certified technician: administrating sodium pentobarbital or commercially compressed carbon monoxide. In Subchapter C, “animal shelter” is defined as a facility that collects, impounds or keeps stray, homeless, abandoned or unwanted animals. Thus, Subchapter C applies to rescue groups, humane societies, public animal shelters, and confinement areas used by law enforcement officers for abandoned or unwanted animals in the interest of public safety and health. A violation of any provision of Subchapter C is punishable as a Class B misdemeanor which carries a penalty of up to 180 days in jail or a fine of up to $2,000 or both. In other words, communities can not shoot, poison, drown or dump their “strays”.

    ...but feral cats are not strays, and my understanding is that in Texas as they are unowned they are thus treated like wildlife and not protected by similar anti-cruelty laws as pets or livestock.

    Is putting poison in food to kill feral cats a legal method of animal control in Texas? Or is it County/City dependent? If so, is it legal in Cass County, TX?

    If anyone can provide this information and/or links to the appropriate statutes, I thank you in advance.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2007

    Default Re: Is It Legal to Poison Feral Cats or Nuisance Wildlife in Texas / Cass County

    A quick scan found this in the Penal Code:

    Sec. 42.09. CRUELTY TO LIVESTOCK ANIMALS. (a) A person commits an offense if the person intentionally or knowingly;

    (5) administers poison to a livestock animal, other than cattle, horses, sheep, swine, or goats, belonging to another without legal authority or the owner's effective consent;

    Under this law, by definition though, a feral cat is not livestock. Is there another section of TX law that adresses it? Maybe, but it would be logical to include it in section 42?

    Assuming there is no TX law on it, yes it is possible local law may appl, so investigate. I do know at least in Ohio, it is illegal to set out poison for strays by state law.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Is It Legal to Poison Feral Cats or Nuisance Wildlife in Texas / Cass County

    Regardless of the status of the ANIMAL (pet, livestock, nuisance/unprotected, etc.) the issue is the METHOD of take - in this case poison being used outside. Most states heavily regulate such use, and relegate such use to those with state issued licensing (due to possibility of intended injury to non-targeted animals, people, ground water, etc.). Before such use, I strongly urge you to contact the Texas Parks and Wildlife office (800) 792-1112, as that is the primary state agency who provides information on the take and destruction of nuisance animals, the ones who would be pursuing prosecution for violations, and they can properly advise you of permitting/licensing issues surrounding your proposed method of disposal.

    Typically if ANY animal (or person) could walk up to it and ingest it, it won't be a permitted method. Use of poison usually requires a DIRECT administration, and most states have disallowed off the shelf stuff that is available to the public as an inhumane method.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2010

    Default Re: Is It Legal to Poison Feral Cats or Nuisance Wildlife

    Actually, I have no intent to poison any animals. I'm in NJ where it is illegal to put out poison of any kind for any reason except with a state exemption permit.

    A friend lives in Texas and manages a Trap-Neuter-Vaccinate-Release program for feral cats in a very backwards town. The local City Manager and a local Justice of the Peace have been harassing her, though she does have the support of the Animal Control officer who understands the benefit to the community.

    The problem is that friends of the local city officials that have been harassing her have been putting out poisoned food in the areas where she feeds and traps the cats, and several times they've poured anti-freeze out in a ditch next to the area in one location. I quickly and easily found out that it is illegal in Texas to pour anti-freeze on the ground as a method of disposal (which the local Mayor and City Manager dismissed as a problem because "it couldn't reach the ground water, so don't worry about it,") but I have been having a heck of a time figuring out even who to contact to find out about the method of killing via poisoning of unowned feral animals, which are treated under animal cruelty laws in the same manner as wildlife - meaning they are NOT covered by animal cruelty laws (in TX), period.

    I found a number of cases cited at citing cases where people shot feral cats in TX and the case was dismissed; another one where someone beat a cat to death with a baseball bat and the case was dismissed; one case in particular where the cat was tortured and then its head cut off, and the case was dismissed.

    Thus aardvarc is correct - the issue is the method of killing. And THANK YOU for pointing me in the right direction to find the answer, because I couldn't even figure out which department would be the correct one to contact. The EPA provided a quick response with links to proper statutes for the anti-freeze issue. In NJ, the poisoning issue falls under several different areas, though I was able to find the answer in my State through the Dept. of Health and Seniors, which is responsible for Animal Control. This was not the appropriate avenue in TX. So thanks again!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2010

    Default Re: Is It Legal to Poison Feral Cats or Nuisance Wildlife

    From the State of Texas Dept of Parks & Wildlife:

    "No, there are no across counter or restricted-use pesticides that are legal to use on any furbearing animal in Texas.

    You can shoot or trap and if you trap the raccoon or skunk, you can euthanize it shooting, drowning, lethal injection or asphyxiation."

    Feral cats do not fall under their purview, but given that it is illegal to use poison bait of any kind to kill nuisance wildlife, as feral cats are legally (via animal cruelty) laws treated as wildlife, I have to assume this applies to them.

    I will note that for stray domestic animals (not feral domestic animals though, apparently), the only legal method of "disposition" is trapping/capturing and euthanization via a properly licensed vet/facility.

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