Sunday, September 2, 2012
The TNR Debate
The TNR Debate (Trap, Neuter and Release) The two opposing sides of the TNR debate agree on two critical issues. First, there would be no feral cats without careless or irresponsible pet owners who purposely or who allow their unaltered cats to roam free or "dump" them. Cat Ordinances written at the local level as to the licensing, and control of pet cats might be in order. Other municipalities have ordinances addressing the responsibility for dog owners. Such ordinances can be used as models for cat laws. But do we want this for our area? Second, unaltered feral cat colonies exist only where there is a human-supplied food source. An increase in food results in an increase in the number of cats, cats that are unaltered. We can surmise the population number of feral cats is a function of the amount of food available to them. A decrease in their food source would decrease their birth rate where food is scarce. On the local level, open garbage containers, keeping the area hosed down and clean, can help in the reduction of the feral cats in or near the area. An entire colony of cats might exist in and around a single garbage dumpster. The feral cats are not there looking for food; they are there because they have found food and are protecting it; this is what defines a feral cat colony. Several generations of cats within the colony have survived potentially off of one dumpster. By properly sealing such containers from access, the birth rate within the colony will decrease and the colony will reach a sustainable size, die out or move on. Rethinking waste management policies by local food establishments is critical to feral cat population control. Another on a local level is the feeding and providing shelter for the unaltered feral cat on your property. You have provided a food source and a shelter for the feral cat to survive within your neighborhood. The unaltered feral cat multiplies stays in the area because of you providing for its welfare. Soon an overabundance of feral cats in the area becomes a nuisance to your neighbors. If you are providing for a feral cat’s welfare on your property, are you legally held responsible for the cat and for damage the cat might do to your neighbor’s garden or home? This is debatable, not knowing how the law defines feral cat ownership, even if there is one that possibly exists. While the welfare of feral cats depends on the people to deal with them responsibly and intelligently, the future of an endangered species is dependent on precisely the same thing. The problem can be effectively addressed by means of a local effort, as both "sides" agree. The intelligent and responsible thing for citizens, conservationists, cat lovers, and bird lovers to do is turn their attention to finding workable solutions rather than debating the issue on who is right and who is wrong. The problem is not the fact they are cats, but rather we do not see cats as wild animals. People must confront cat overpopulation by spaying and neutering, by discouraging abandonment, by TNR (Trap, Neuter, Release) and keeping areas clean where human food is made available to cats.