Mon, 04/01/2024 - 5:45am

There goes the neighborhood.

Boothbay Region Land Trust
From the Boothbay Harbor Register (April 1, 2024) ~~

After a very unpopular 2022 decision requiring all dogs be on leashes on four of their most popular preserves, the Boothbay Region Land Trust (BRLT) voted to ban cats from all their trails starting May 1st, 2024.

It is the result of an emergency meeting called after a senior hiker was tragically mauled. Ironically, the attack occurred in Porter's Preserve - a preserve where all dogs must be leashed.

The BRLT has been exploring solutions to the cat problem at their preserves for years. "It was a decision none of us wanted to make," said Sky Wood, Development Director for the BRLT. "But the situation has been building. It was a long time coming."

"We considered allowing cats on certain preserves like we did with dogs, but cats are true carnivores and crave stalking prey and eating raw meat," said BRLT's Executive Director Nick Ullo. "We discussed allowing owners to bring their cats on trails with a secure front-fitting baby sling for the cat or a backpack with a view bubble. That could really reduce the number of attacks, but how could these regulations be enforced? Cat owners are generally dismissive regarding any rules or regulations that constrict their 'Fur-Babies' freedom. And we are a Land Trust, not a law enforcement agency."

People opposed to the ban say the problem is a result of over-crowding on the trails and that Lincoln County has no outlets for felines to socialize. They warn the situation will only get worse.

The most vocal critics of the ban however, suggest the root of the problem is simply demographics. "Lincoln County has the largest percentage of seniors of any county in the United States," says Cat Expert Simon "Beau" Livar.

"And they complain about things all the time."

Mr. Livar continued, "Most seniors don't have favorable or modern attitudes regarding cats. They think all cats should be in "The Barn," surviving on voles and rodents. The thought of a litter pan in the house is absolutely incomprehensible to them. Furthermore," continued Livar, "If seniors are confronted by a cat in the wild, they tend to run, wave their arms above their head and scream. In doing that, they are essentially telling any cats in the area that they are injured prey. That's when disaster happens."

Yet others question the scale of the attacks, suggesting senior citizens tend to exaggerate what any normal person would consider mundane or un-noteworthy. "Sometimes they get overwhelmed," offered Randy Goht of the Think Tank, Senior Level. "A late bus to a senior citizen becomes a sweeping indictment of the Federal Reserve. A discontinued postal stamp is an indication that the government is controlled by aliens. And a simple encounter on the BRLT trails with a house cat becomes a life-threatening episode."

Other people, however, welcome the ban. "They made the right decision," said Reginald Tarnis of East Boothbay. "Every time I get over to Hendricks Preserve with my rappelling gear, someone's damn cat runs up and starts playing with my rappelling rope like it's a fun bit of string. It's NOT! It's very expensive and I put my life in its hands. But what can I do?"

One thing is certain in the Boothbay Region. This issue is not going to be resolved any time soon.