Google's Feral Cats Threaten Burrowing Owl Population Near Campus

Environmentalists are blaming a decrease in native burrowing owls near Google's Mountain View headquarters on feral c...

Posted: Jun 1, 2018 3:18 AM
Updated: Jun 1, 2018 3:18 AM

Environmentalists are blaming a decrease in native burrowing owls near Google's Mountain View headquarters on feral cats being cared for and fed regularly by Google employees.

The feral cats, perhaps a dozen or more, can be seen roaming the owls' habitat directly across the street from the Google campus.

A few years ago, there used to be nearly two dozen burrowing owls at the site but there wasn't a single one seen out here today, and environmentalists think they know why.

"A lot of scientific study has been done that these non-native animals, these cats that we love as pets, are also killers," said environmental activist Eileen McLaughlin.

The feral cats can be identified by the notches on their ears, which means it is the likely work of GCat Rescue, a volunteer group of about a half dozen Google employees who find home for strays cats, adopting out 148 so far.

The group also traps, neuters and returns other feral cats to the wild and maintain four cat-feeding stations in and around the Google campus, complete with swinging doors, and plenty of kibble and water.

The stations feature the Gcat logo, and uses a company email address: meow@google.com.

McLaughlin noted the feeding stations are just several hundred yards away from the owl's nesting grounds. She says she has been encouraging Google for years to eliminate the feeding stations and find another home for the cats.

"To have a company, through its employees, supporting a process that is maintaining a colony of little predators, whether they go after the owls or the songbirds, or mice, they're here. And they don't have to be," said McLaughlin.

Shani Kleinhaus with the Silicon Valley Audubon Society says development by humans is mostly to blame for the decline in owls, but having cats nearby doesn't help. "The breeding population is on the brink of disappearing forever from our landscape," said Kleinhaus.

Given Google's recent work to preserve egrets on its campus, along with its preservation efforts near Moffett Field, Kleinhaus thinks Google will do the right thing.

"I think there are solutions," said Kleinhaus. "It needs work, but I think Google will be willing to work with conservationists to come to a good resolution."

Google told KPIX 5 it is studying the issue and will make a decision in the near future.

Article Comments

Mason City
Clear
wxIcon
Hi: 16° Lo: 14°
Feels Like: -12°
Albert Lea
Clear
wxIcon
Hi: 15° Lo: 14°
Feels Like: -9°
Austin
Clear
wxIcon
Hi: 17° Lo: 16°
Feels Like: -8°
Charles City
Few Clouds
wxIcon
Hi: 16° Lo: 15°
Feels Like: -10°
Rochester
Clear
wxIcon
Hi: 14° Lo: 13°
Feels Like: -12°
Temperatures rally as snow returns
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Latest Video

Image

Sara's Daybreak Forecast - Tuesday

Image

Warming Center update

${item.thumbnail.title}

StormTeam 3: Snow and ice possible later this week

Image

Austin loses tough road game at Mankato East

Image

Chris' PM Weather Forecast 1/20

Image

Success is key for Schaeffer boy's basketball

Image

What do people in Rochester think of gun control?

Image

Parenting in the modern era

Image

Klobuchar campaigns in Iowa

Image

Grizzlies use three unanswered goals to defeat Coulee Region

Community Events