(Washington, D.C. June 1, 2009) American Bird Conservancy has produced a new, short film “Trap, Neuter, and Release: Bad for Cats, Disaster for Birds.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-fvN7FNUPas The film reveals how a feral cat management program called trap, neuter, and release is failing to substantially reduce cat numbers despite advocates’ claims, and is contributing to the deaths of millions of birds each year, including endangered species.
Trap, neuter, and release (TNR) programs catch feral cats, neuter them, and then release them back to colonies, which are subsequently maintained by volunteers. In theory, cat colonies managed under TNR will diminish over time through attrition, and eventually disappear.
“The truth is that TNR fails to eliminate cat colonies, and instead perpetuates many of the problems these colonies create, including the predation of birds and other wildlife, risks to human and wildlife health, and public nuisance,” said Steve Holmer, American Bird Conservancy’s Director of Public Relations who produced the film. “Feral and free-roaming cats kill hundreds of millions of our nation’s birds each year, putting additional pressure on the populations of many species that are in decline.”
The film highlights two examples where the technique has been used: one, at Ocean Reef, a gated, private residential community in the Florida Keys; and one at a public park in Miami. The Ocean Reef program is widely hailed as a model for TNR programs nationally, though it is quite different from most, having full-time paid staff and veterinarian care twice weekly.
Despite this huge investment in resources and restricted access to the colony by the public so that cat abandonment is limited, 500 cats continue to roam the community fifteen years after the program began. In the more typical case of A.D. Barnes Park in Miami, the cat population at the colony has grown since the TNR program run by volunteers was launched.
“A better solution is to trap, neuter, and remove feral cats, and then relocate them to enclosed cat sanctuaries or shelters, or, where possible, to adopt them out to safe and comfortable homes,” said Holmer.
The video, which is now available on American Bird Conservancy’s YouTube channel includes interviews with a number of experts, including wildlife managers, veterinarians, and volunteers, all of whom have experience with TNR and believe that it is an ineffective means of eliminating feral cat populations. For more information on the problems created by feral cats see American Bird Conservancy’s website at http://www.abcbirds.org/cats.