- Associated Press - Friday, March 7, 2014

KEY LARGO, Fla. (AP) - Officials at a federal wildlife refuge in the Florida Keys are going to start issuing fines to the owners of cats repeatedly found within its boundaries.

U.S. wildlife officials have partly blamed cats for the dwindling populations of endangered species, such as the Key Largo wood rat in the Crocodile Lake National Wildlife Refuge.

Refuge manager Jeremy Dixon tells The Key West Citizen (https://bit.ly/1igkvUV ) that he hopes the fines encourage pet owners to keep their cats indoors. Owners will first get a warning. Then they’ll get a $175 fine the next time their cat is tracked on the Key Largo refuge.

Dixon says many of the cats come from a nearby gated community that is home to hundreds of stray cats. Some residents dispute that claim.

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Information from: The Key West (Fla.) Citizen, https://www.keysnews.com

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