In 2007, jurors in Galveston, Tex., heard opening arguments on Tuesday in the trial of a bird-watching enthusiast who fatally shot a cat that he said was stalking endangered shorebirds. The defendant, James M. Stevenson, is the founder of the Galveston Ornithological Society and leads bird-watching tours on this Gulf Coast island 60 miles southeast of Houston. If convicted on animal cruelty charges in the shooting last November, he faces up to twenty-five years in jail and a $1,000,000 fine. Mr. Stevenson, 54, does not deny using a .22-caliber rifle fitted with a scope to kill the cat, which lived under the San Luis Pass toll bridge, linking Galveston to the mainland. He also admits killing many other cats on his own property, where he operates a bed and breakfast for some of the estimated 500,000 birders who come to the island every year.
|James M. Stevenson|