Nightly for about two years, my roomate and I have been feeding a colony of feral cats (roughly 40-50), spread out across a mile and a half on a man-made harbor-island here in southern cal.
Before us, a woman did it for 6-7 years, nightly.
We travel along a road, and make stops at about 8 feeding areas. Each area was chosen for its obscure location (In the bushes behind a bike rack, top of a small hill, etc). We only use dry cat food, and containers may consist of a hard plastic bowl, or a foil pan, or plastic/paper plate.
So last night my roomate is doing the route when a harbor police officer stops her activity, and threatens to fine her a $500 ticket for littering if she doesn't cease her activity immediately.
We're devastated and, at this time, don't know what to do. The cats have been fed nightly for so long, that they've come to depend on us for their food.
Other harbor police officers were ok with this activity for YEARS! why now?
Finally, my questions:
1) Is there a law that prevents us from feeding these cats, or is it just the case of an officer nitpicking because he may dislike cats in general?
2) Please bear with me (Sorry if this is so long) -
Our city/State code, regarding litter, lists the following -
Littering means the willful or negligent throwing, tossing, dropping, placing, depositing, sweeping or blowing with a mechanical device of any solid waste on any public sidewalk, street, highway, alleys walkway, beach, pier, waters, waterway, water course, gutter, storm drain, park, railroad right-of-way, open space, or other public property whether open to the public or not, except in a receptacle designed for solid waste collection or disposal.
Solid waste has the meaning established by California Public Resources Code Section 40191. In addition, solid waste includes any material that may be recycled that is disposed of by means of placement for collection by an authorized collector in the manner provided by this chapter.
40191. (a) Except as provided in subdivision (b), "solid waste"
means all putrescible and nonputrescible solid, semisolid, and liquid
wastes, including garbage, trash, refuse, paper, rubbish, ashes,
industrial wastes, demolition and construction wastes, abandoned
vehicles and parts thereof, discarded home and industrial appliances,
dewatered, treated, or chemically fixed sewage sludge which is not
hazardous waste, manure, vegetable or animal solid and semisolid
wastes, and other discarded solid and semisolid wastes.
If I don't lay down plastics/foil pans/or other containers, would I legally be able to place a reasonable amount of dry cat food onto the ground itself? I don't consider a small helping of fresh dry cat food to be 'putrescible'.
By the way, we are also involved with the Feral Cat Coalition and 90% of these cats have been trapped, spayed/neutered/and re-released.