MIAMI, Feb. 1 (UPI) -- Feral cats and other unwanted "pests" will be trapped as part of a plan to protect native animals in Florida Keys wildlife refuges, U.S. officials said.
The plan released this week says U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service staff "will begin actively controlling and removing certain exotic animals from public lands within these refuges," The Miami Herald reported Friday.
Forgotten Felines, a cat-rescue group in the Middle and Lower Keys, and several other national animal groups said they oppose the trapping of feral cats, which often are considered unadoptable and euthanized.
"They've been talking about this for several years but this is the first we've heard that they're actually going to begin implementation," Forgotten Felines officer Jerry Dykhuisen said.
Conservation groups including the Sierra Club, National Wildlife Federation and the American Bird Conservancy have voiced support for the plan, saying birds and local endangered species have few defenses against predatory cats that don't belong in Keys wild areas.
Under the USFWS plan, cats captured will be taken to local animal shelters where staff "can use their expertise regard[ing] final disposition of the cats."