A wildlife biologist with a history of advocating feral cat control to protect wild birds was recently found guilty of animal cruelty for allegedly trying to poison feral cats near her Washington, D.C. apartment.

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A former researcher at the Smithsonian National Zoo’s Migratory Bird Center has been found guilty of misdemeanor attempted cruelty to animals for sprinkling poison atop cat food intended for feral cats living in Washington, D.C. Yesterday’s verdict, delivered by a judge in the D.C. Superior Court, marks the latest turn in the prosecution of wildlife biologist Nico Dauphine, an outspoken advocate of the need to protect bird populations from feral cats.

Dauphine had denied the allegation, but lost her case after a 3-day trial before a judge. She is scheduled to be sentenced later this month. The zoo accepted her resignation yesterday. According to court proceedings, Dauphine was arrested in May after residents living in an apartment building adjacent to the Meridian Hill Park in Washington noticed that the food they regularly left out to feed area cats would sometimes become covered by a white powdery substance overnight. One of these residents, Rachel Sterling, contacted officials at the Washington Humane Society. Representatives from the society tested the substance and determined that it was poison.

The threat feral cats pose to native bird populations (including gamebirds) is well-documented, and the necessity of lethal–as opposed to patently stupid schemes like trap-spay-release–feral cat control is supported by most everyone with half a brain. On the other hand, do you think poisoning cats that others are actively feeding is going a bit far?