Friday, February 5, 2010

Speak up for TNR

Those of us who support community cat programs and Trap-Neuter-Return/Release (TNR) for free-roaming cats need to speak up and do so with every resource and national-group backing we can. In light of the recent article about TNR in our local paper, it is still very clear we have a long way to go in our community before our Animal Control leaders and wildlife protectors get up to speed on this method and why it is beneficial to all animals and people involved, including birds and other wildlife. When it comes to this topic, more people than not are very misinformed. Luckily, our animal shelter, who has to deal with the trapped cats coming in and is killing 80% of its cats, is finally speaking up about our community's need for TNR.

Where wildlife advocates go wrong is in the assumption that what we have been doing for DECADES is working. It is not working, and millions of free-roaming cats prove it. There are as many free-roaming cats as there are cats in homes as pets -- about 80-90 million nationwide. If we were going to eradicate feral cat populations by trapping and hauling them off to be systematically killed at shelters, we would have done so already. Nationally, we have killed millions to date with no end in sight. That's becasue free-roaming cats are some of the most resilient animals around--going from domestic to wild and surviving and thriving despite many obstacles and adversities.

That said, no one more than I wishes that all domestic cats had a nice indoor home and a warm lap to lay on. I also do not wish upon any wildlife that they be injured or killed by a feral cat. If you look at this issue logically, that's why TNR is the only alternative we have come up with to date. It may take time for TNR to work, but over time, the populations finally decrease and die out when you fix cats, vaccinate them, and release them back into their environments. Where this is not feasible for whatever reason, you relocate those cats via barn cat and other similar programs. By doing this, it keeps other cats from moving into this "bubble" of territory, and that territory then stabilizes and then starts dying off naturally by atrition.

When we reduce feral cat populations over time, as has been done on the NMSU campus because of fCamp's tireless work, what we do is reduce the supposed health risks to humans; reduce the nuisance of loose cats to humans; and, most importantly, we also reduce the number of wildlife hurt or killed by feral cats. It truly is the only Win-Win for all, and it has nothing to do with hoarding cats (as suggested by one AC supervisor in the story in the paper). It does take alot of hard work, but doing this work in small bubbles of managed colonies throughout the community will finally start paying off. Eventually, all those bubbles, or pockets of cat territories, will start to reduce the overall feral population in our entire community.

Those of us who want to do this work or support this work cannot get anything done in a regressive community. Those who are detractors of TNR or animal people not up to speed need to take some time to learn about how it works and why it works and need to stop to think about why all the following groups now support these efforts (including the National Animal Control Association). Read through these vast resources listed below, which is not an exhaustive list, and help us start advocating more strongly for TNR to first be made legal in all of Dona Ana County and the City of Las Cruces; that's the first step we need to take. And then we can finally start getting to work and reducing cat populations and also reducing the stress and waste of money it is to haul cats in to be killed at our shelter with no results to show for it over time except very similar numbers from month-to-month and year-to-year.

http://network.bestfriends.org/campaigns/felines/default.aspx

http://www.spayusa.org/main_directory/08-feral_cats/index.asp

http://www.aspca.org/about-us/policy-positions/feral-cat-management.html

http://www.humanesociety.org/issues/feral_cats/facts/TNR_statement.html

http://www.spayusa.org/main_directory/08-feral_cats/feralcat_policy.asp

http://www.animalsheltering.org/resource_library/magazine_articles/sep_oct_2008/broader_view_of_cats.pdf

http://www.alleycat.org/NetCommunity/Document.Doc?id=30

http://www.alleycat.org/NetCommunity/Page.aspx?pid=431

http://www.nokilladvocacycenter.org/pdf/feralcatissue_000.pdf

Those who still oppose TNR might consider volunteering at the local shelter with the poor workers forced to kill cats by the hundreds each month and thousands each year when there are many alternatives proving effective in hundreds of other communities in the U.S. Those concerned for wildlife should understand that these cats are wildlife as well, and just like all wildlife, the greatest threat to those populations is us--human beings. What studies have shown is that our urban sprawl and pesticide use, among other human evils, have killed far more birds and other wildlife than all feral cats combined.

In other words, it's time for us to get with the times. TNR today is not as controversial as it was 10 to 20 years ago ... that we think it is in Las Curces shows how collectively behind the times we are. Even El Paso has legalized TNR for free-roaming cats. What haven't we?

20 comments:

Anonymous said...

the numbers may go down, but you still have a STRAY CAT problem
and who has all of the records of cat ID's and vaccinations for the university.
i think they should provide that information with photos of the cats and current vaccination records

Anonymous said...

the numbers may go down, but you still have a STRAY CAT problem
and who has all of the records of cat ID's and vaccinations for the university.
i think they should provide that information with photos of the cats and current vaccination records

Anonymous said...

are you going to come over to my house and clean the mess these STRAY CATS leave behind
and are you going to cry when my secured pit-bull kills one of your STRAY CATS in my yard.
no you will scream and try and have my dog removed for killing your STRAY CAT

Anonymous said...

i think it is funny how when counter arguements are put towards you, you never publish them.
is that the "progressive way"
yes it is if you do history on the progressive movement in this world of ours

Michel Meunier said...

Anonymous:

With our without TNR, you still have a stray cat problem. That's the point of TNR -- if there were another way to actually reduce the number of stray cats via catch and kill, we'd be way ahead of the cats by now. We have been trapping and killing cats by the millions for decades, yet there's still a national population of stray cats of approximately 80 million. Do you have a better idea than either TNR or catch and kill?

Michel Meunier said...

Anonymous:

Community cat caretakers in neighborhoods try their bets to mitigate cats messing yards by providing alternatives for these cats in places that won't bother the neighbors. At least the caretakers are aware of issues and try to help people bothered by stray cats.

As for a dog killing a stray cat, that's as much a part of nature as a cat perhaps killing a mouse. I for one would never call for a dog to be killed, much less a pit bull, whom I advocate for as well, if a cat went into that dog's yard and got killed.

Michel Meunier said...

Anonymous:

I am assuming all of these comments are from the same person, so I should have responded to them all in one response. Sorry about this, readers!

I do post many counter-arguments on this blog. In fact, most of the comments on this blog are oppositional. What I don't publish are comments that are irrelevant to the topic of the blog post. Either yourself or some other TNR opposer keeps sending in very LONG, blog-post length anti-TNR misinformation. You send these comments on all my blog posts, even those not dealing with TNR at all.

What I suggest to the person that is doing this is you start your own anti-TNR blog. It is easy to start and write a blog, and that's the best venue for your comments.

Michel Meunier said...

Anonymous:

Yes, you still have a stray cat problem. That's the reason why TNR was invented--to combat the issue that is not being addressed by traditional methods of catch and kill. TNR was first introducted in Great Britain.

Anyway, take NMSU as an example. They first had a stray cat problem of 200+ cats back when the program started in 2002. Now, the stray cat problem has been reduced to 75 on the campus, and the cats left are vaccinated and altered.

Those records are readily available from the FCamp website; you should visit the site to see:
http://www.nmsu.edu/~fcamp/

Anonymous said...

how about after all the stray cays are trapped dont return them back out into the street. just quit putting food out for them, i bet the numbers will go down even faster.
people who feed stray cats are just adding to the problem

Michel Meunier said...

Anonymous, whomever you are, I hate to say this and I'm trying to be as polite as possible, but you are extremely misinformed about stray/feral/free-roaming cats. PLEASE consider doing some reading and research about the topic. There is a wealth of great information at the Alley Cat Allies website.

It's true human beings cause most animal problems. Ferals are caused by people who took in cats, domesticated them, and then dumped them unaltered in the environment. Over many, many decades, we have come to what we have today -- the millions out there that are free-roaming.

What people don't understand about cats is they are very unique in that they can survive and thrive as wildlife even after domestication. They are the only rare animal that can do this. Whether people feed ferals or not, they survive and thrive and multiply much faster than any AC department has been able to trap and kill them.

That might work for the short term, but more free cats will fill any void left behind where there are places for them to hide and live and any food sources at all. There is no EASY solution to these issues; hence, that's why TNR was born.

Anonymous said...

i do live in a area that was infested with ferel cats and i got a trap and trapped all(@20 or so) of them and turned them over to animal control.
animal control found a place where some one was feeding the cats and the feed stations were removed and the person was givin a ticket for feeding stray cats.
and since then there hasn't been any cats in the area.
that is my research.
and if you had your way all of those cats would have been returned and i would still have that STRAY CAT problem.

you just have to get your head out of the "it makes me feel good" clouds and get back to reality
i suggest you do some research that opposes your views and don't be so closed minded.
i do and i have found that barnyard programs in rural areas work better than city areas
there has been no scientific proof that TNR works, just emotional state of minds

Michel Meunier said...

Anonymous, my one and only commentator on this issue, I think we'll have to end this run of back-and-forth that is getting us nowhere and just agree to disagree. The fact is, stray cat issues are not simple, and solutions are not simple as well. What might work in one small area does not work as a whole. Your research in your one small corner of the world is very myopic, and even if people stop feeding the cats, they still come back and still survive. They survive and thrive whether humans are feeding them or not. Give your area another few months, and you'll see more new cats move into this now available area. The reason we put them back in their environments is to keep more cats from being born there, to finally dwindle tne numbers through atrition, and to keep new cats from moving in.
Do some reasearch on the topic outside of your neighborhood and outside of our regressive Animal Control departments' views on this issue. Even the National Animal Control Association has changed their stance on TNR, and there's a reason for it. It's not because my head is personally stuck in any cloud.

Arsinoe said...

Mr. Anoymous is a coward....So keep running your mouth and not identifying yourself, we all know how full of hate you are.

Cats are the ONLY real equalizer in the natural world we humans have created. If they weren't around, you would have lots of mice rats and snakes to share your world with. Lots of disease to go with it. YOU would then whine about that....RIGHT??? Who would you call then? Animal Control would probably be hiding off somewhere not dealing with the situation, they created by the rounding up and murdering little animals.

As for the Bird people crying that all the little birdies are getting eaten.....Well stupid....Lets Shoot all the hawks and the roadrunners, they eat up more birdies than any kitty cat can.
But then you make it illegal for people to feed the wild cats....Guess what a well fed kitty is one who doesn't have to kill all those 10 million sparrows we have here. They don't have to eat pidgeon pie.

What the problem is that people here don't know how to deal with death. We have two camps. The delusional, that can't stand when anything in nature dies and cries on and on about it....Then there are the DEATH FEEDERS, they are the ones who feed on the lives they are responsible for ending. They enjoy killing things. Obviously the city loves death, they don't support anything good.

Las Cruces, your going to Hell and I will be there to roast wiennies on your bonfire.....FREAKS!

LARRY said...

Why do we have so many Animal Control trucks buzzing the city? I can't find a cop but I run into 5 or more trucks of these animal killers on my way to work every morning. Is there something wrong with a town who would be so obsessive about killing our pets that they have such a large fleet of trucks between the city county and university animal control. We're paying for this! But when I had to call the cops you can't even get one to show up in less than 50 years.....And where are they to enforce the bad driving here and the new cell phone laws? No where!!!!

catlover said...

TNRrealitychck.com
check it out

Michel Meunier said...

There is one site on the web that spreads terrible misinoformation about TNR and cat populations. It's called www.TNRRealityChck.com. Looking at the site, you can see the unprofessionalism of it from the start. What group or individual writes for the site, and what is their claim to any expertise on the subject? Anyone who looks at this site in comparison to one such as Alley Cat Allies (www.alleycat.org) will see the difference from a legitimate group posting legitimate information opposed to whomever puts together the information on the TNR-opposition site. The site claims "To educate the public about the negative effects Trap-Neuter-Release (Trap-Neuter-Return) has on native wildlife, domestic cats and humans through well-documented facts, scientific literature and respected resources," but none are to be found on the site at all.
The fact remains that the leading animal protection groups are now pro-TNR, including the HSUS, ASPCA, and the National Animal Control Association. There is a REASON for this; more and more studies and more and more TNR success stories are proving the detractors wrong.

responsible cat owner said...

just because
TNRrealitycheck.com deals with fact and not emmotion doesnt mean they are unprofessional
i checked it out along with the pro tnr sites and it seems they have more facts to back up their statements.
like the story about LA County putting a stop to its TNR programm because it hasnt had any effect

Michel Meunier said...

If you did your reading and research, you'd see LA County is not a shinning animal-welfare example. That's the only straw this anti-TNR site could grasp at. On the Best Friends site here, they list all of the counties and municipailities having great success with TNR--far more facts than this one sraw:
http://network.bestfriends.org/campaigns/felines/default.aspx

Kat Albrecht said...

I don't agree that TNR is the only alternative to solving the stray/feral cat problem. Actually, we will never SOLVE it. But why aren't we aggressively working to recover LOST and displaced cats (using TAR: trap-and-reunite)? Check out this case on my blog http://katalbrecht.com/blog/?p=145 . We need to do more to MITIGATE cats from becoming stray/feral by proper and aggressive lost cat recovery services. It's not that hard - indoor cat escapes oustide, set a trap, return cat home, prevent burden on system. Are we scanning the new "ferals" that show up at feeding stations? Are we researching lost cat reports from the local shelter to see if they were reported lost (weeks/months after they show up)? TNR is great, but more can and should be done.

Michel Meunier said...

Kat, thank you for your insightful comment. I'm sorry if I ever made it sound like the stray cat problem is easily fixed by TNR. I just think TNR is the best choice of the few we have to tackle the cats not owned or claimed by anyone. It is true that cat redemption rates are a big part of the issue as well. Part of the problem is understaning lost cat behavior and that people often do not look for their cats as well or for a long enough time or in the right places, and shelters are not proactive with the efforts either. The advice and information at the Missing Pet Parnership is invaluable as well. Thanks for sharing your blog post!