McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK


November 21, 2013


Feral wildlife of the Oklahoma woodlands

McALESTER — Have you ever thought about your nice, fuzzy, warm kitty cat turning into a cruel, merciless killer? What if you woke up in the middle of the night to discover your furry, four-legged fissiped standing on your chest, ready to attack. Would that scare you?

If you have a cat like ours, probably not. Emma weighs about 20 pounds and often when she tries to jump up on the bed, she only makes it part way up before falling back on the floor in a heap of chubby cat fur. If she had to catch her own dinner, she’d never survive.

Emma spends about 20 hours a day sleeping and an hour eating and maybe three hours awake. I’m not quite sure why, but even at that she’s still nice to have around. When I’m snoozing in the recliner on cold winter days, she sleeps on my lap, or if I stretch out on the bed under the electric blanket, she quickly takes her place on the bed spread to absorb the blanket’s warmth. Now that I think about it, maybe she’s a reflection of her owners. She’s comfortable being here with us and we’re content to have her around.

Some animal relationships aren’t that amiable. Out where we live, there’s a number of feral felines that come around and create havoc. They’re descendants of once tamed cats that were either lost or discarded and after several generations, their offspring have become as wild as their surroundings.

In times past, animals were often set free in order to control some other animal or plant population that was considered a pest. Examples are found on South Pacific islands where European rabbits were introduced to contain the spread of unwanted vegetation or as a food supply. Before long, the island was covered with feral rabbits; then cats were introduced to control the rabbit population. But the cats also ate the desirable native lizards and drove them into extinction. It proved to be a bad outcome for a well-intentioned plan.

Just like other parks all across the U.S., Robbers Cave has an occasional problem with feral cats. Their introduction can have a big impact on the natural balance of both plant and animal life in an otherwise healthy ecosystem. In fact, feral cats are the most common nuisance worldwide, and cats have been blamed for the extinction of over 33 species. So Robbers Cave State Park has to carefully monitor the forests and eliminate any inadvertently introduced feral animals, fish, birds and plants. It’s a big job, but one that’s necessary to maintain the natural balance of wildlife and vegetation. 

We all need to think about our impact upon nature. Our parks are beautiful places where we can come to enjoy the elegance of the forests, but it’s important that when we leave, we take everything we brought to the park back home with us and discard our trash in the provided trash Dumpsters, not on the ground.

Above all, don’t forget to take your dogs and cats and especially your kids back home too. We don’t want any future feral adults wandering through the woods … hey, you know the thought just occurred to me, you don’t suppose that’s where Bigfoot came from do you? I’ll bet it is!

Daniel Parks is the scout camp director and public campground coordinator for Robbers Cave State Park. Contact him at

Text Only | Photo Reprints
  • Saundra Kaye Offill

    Saundra Kaye Offill, 67, lost her 7 year battle with Alzhiemer’s on Thursday, July 10, 2014. She was born in McAlester, Oklahoma on March 11, 1947, to Louis and the late Melba Vanlandingham.

    July 16, 2014

  • Square logo.jpg ‘Is anything sacred anymore?’

    What do we know about the “The Star Spangled Banner” ?

    July 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • Square logo.jpg Any hope in new MPD facility?

    July 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • ent_taylorswift.jpg There's less good music now — here's why

    Taylor Swift, the seven-time Grammy winner, is known for her articulate lyrics, so there was nothing surprising about her writing a long column for The Wall Street Journal about the future of the music industry. Yet there's reason to doubt the optimism of what she had to say.

    July 9, 2014 1 Photo

  • Donald Sterling needs to go away

    Whether it happens due to a quick settlement or a likely longer trial, Clippers owner Donald Sterling just needs to go away.

    June 19, 2014

  • CHRIS-MORRIS-2.jpg Prescription drug abuse

    Tip of the Week
    You can be arrested for driving under the influence of prescription medication, so follow your recommended dosage or don’t get behind the wheel.

    June 9, 2014 1 Photo

  • Kevin Durant Kevin Durant’s grace period will end soon

    After his 7th season ended Saturday with the Thunder’s Game 6 loss to the San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference Finals, the grace period for Oklahoma City superstar Kevin Durant may soon be drawing to a close.

    June 3, 2014 1 Photo

  • Billy Guy Ferrell

    Billy Guy Ferrell, died Saturday, May 24, 2014, at a nursing home in McAlester.

    May 30, 2014

  • Square logo.jpg Congress faces risky decision on National Security, local aerospace jobs

    When you’re in the middle of errands and your fuel gauge hits the red zone, what do you do? Skip the gas station and try to make it back home on ‘E’? Even if you make it home, what will you do the next time you need to drive your car? It’s not worth the ten minutes saved. Who wants to be stranded on the side of the road, forced to walk to the nearest filling station or wait for a tow?

    May 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Todd Lamb From the Capitol: Staycation in Oklahoma

    With the summer travel season quickly approaching, many Oklahomans are making plans for their summer vacations. I would encourage Oklahomans to look in our own backyard and explore all that Oklahoma has to offer this summer. All ages and all travel enthusiasts can find something of interest here at home.

    May 21, 2014 1 Photo

Seasonal Content
AP Video
Rodents Rampant in Gardens Around Louvre House to Vote on Slimmed-down Bill for Border Looming Demand Could Undercut Flight Safety Raw: 2 Shells Hit Fuel Tank at Gaza Power Plant Raw: Massive Explosions From Airstrikes in Gaza Giant Ketchup Bottle Water Tower Up for Sale Easier Nuclear Construction Promises Fall Short Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue Raw: Corruption Trial Begins for Former Va Gov. The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming UN Security Council Calls for Gaza Cease-fire Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating 13 Struck by Lightning on Calif. Beach Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Israel, Hamas Trade Fire Despite Truce in Gaza Italy's Nibali Set to Win First Tour De France Raw: Shipwrecked Concordia Completes Last Voyage Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge From Nest Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix 12-hour Cease-fire in Gaza Fighting Begins
NDN Video
'Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1' Sneak Peek NOW TRENDING: Peyton Manning dancing at practice Golden Sisters on '50 Shades' trailer: 'Look At That Chest!' Chapter Two: Designing for Naomi Watts "The Bachelorette" Makes Her Decision Thieves pick the wrong gas station to rob Staten Island Man's Emotional Dunk Over NYPD Car - @TheBuzzeronFOX GMA: Dog passes out from excitment to see owner Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Florida Keys Webcam Captures Turtles Hatching Morgan Freeman Sucks Down Helium on 'Tonight Show' Robin Wright Can Dance! (WATCH) She's Back! See Paris Hilton's New Carl's Jr. Ad Big Weekend For Atlanta Braves In Cooperstown - @TheBuzzeronFox Chapter Two: Becoming a first-time director What's Got Jack Black Freaking Out at Comic-Con? Doctors Remove 232 Teeth From Teen's Mouth Bradley Cooper Explains His Voice in 'Guardians of the Galaxy' Deja vu: Another NYPD officer choke-holding a suspect 'Fifty Shades of Grey': Watch the Super Sexy First Trailer Now!

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.