A former researcher at the Smithsonian National Zoo’s Migratory Bird Center has been found guilty of misdemeanor attempted cruelty to animals for sprinkling poison atop cat food intended for feral cats living in Washington, D.C.
Yesterday’s verdict, delivered by a judge in the D.C. Superior Court, marks the latest turn in the prosecution of wildlife biologist Nico Dauphiné, an outspoken advocate of the need to protect bird populations from feral cats.
Dauphiné had denied the allegation, but lost her case after a 3-day trial before a judge. She is scheduled to be sentenced later this month. The zoo accepted her resignation yesterday.
According to court proceedings, Dauphiné was arrested in May after residents living in an apartment building adjacent to the Meridian Hill Park in Washington noticed that the food they regularly left out to feed area cats would sometimes become covered by a white powdery substance overnight. One of these residents, Rachel Sterling, contacted officials at the Washington Humane Society. Representatives from the society tested the substance and determined that it was poison.