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<National Report> Part 2 of this Special Report investigates the effects and documented results of 30 years of TNR (Trap, Neuter & Release) programs in the United States. Included in this report are recent studies about the effects TNR programs have had on wildlife, the cost to taxpayers, the population explosion in feral cat colonies, the question of disease, and how local communities are taking action to remove dangerous colonies from their neighborhoods.
Reality Check – The Truth About TNR
During the 1970s TNR programs were first introduced as a working solution to effectively reduce and control the numbers of feral cats living in colonies. Many local governments saw TNR programs as a way to mitigate the killing options of euthanasia and poisoning as the only means of regulating colony populations and as a means to address the public’s concerns about public health and safety issues.
Thirty years ago we knew out-of-control populations of free roaming wild cats if not checked would increase the potential for the spread of disease to domestic animals and people. We also knew that to introduce an invasive predator species into the natural environment of local wildlife would result in devastation of local wildlife. We still know this today but after three decades we’ve learned TNR is an utter failure that has yet to attain one of its stated goals.
The Truth About TNR Programs Is They Do Not Work
GOAL: TNR will reduce and control the numbers of feral cats living in colonies to a manageable level.
• FACT: Ten years ago studies showed 62 million domestic cats in the U.S. and 19 million feral cats. The overpopulation of feral cats has exploded since 2003. Today one cat out of every two you see is likely diseased and grew up in feral colonies where they’ve had little to no human contact.
• FACT: Government research today shows an estimated 80 million (+) domestic cats in the U.S. and another 80 million wild cats living in feral colonies.
Source: University Of Nebraska
GOAL: By reducing feral populations using TNR the potential for the spread of disease to domestic animals and people is also reduced.
This goal made by supporters of TNR 30 years ago is a proven failure since the numbers clearly show TNR was never a success at reducing feral cat populations. However the National Report wanted to know more about the likelihood of feral cats spreading disease to our pets and family. One argument in this debate is that cats cannot spread anything but rabies to humans.
The National Report arraigned an exclusive interview with feral cat expert Dr. Colt Quackenbush, DVM, 64, of Boston. Dr. Quackenbush is the nation’s leading specialist in feline veterinarian medicine, animal behavioral science and spirit healing. We limited our questions to that of feline disease and the potential of that disease being spread from feral cats to domestic pets and humans.
Dr. Quackenbush, said the greater the numbers of feral cats the greater the risk. He said most feral cats today were raised wild and have never had any significant human contact so they naturally view people as a threat. Therefore a feral animal is more likely to attack a human and anytime you receive an open wound from a bite, or scratch the transmission of disease and infection is very high.
We asked if feral cats are more likely to carry disease than domestic cats?
“Since feral cats live outdoors exclusively and most have never seen a veterinarian they’re walking breeding grounds for pestilence, disease, and exposure to rabies,” he said.
I asked Dr. Quackenbush, what success TNR programs have had in helping reduce risk. His answer was blunt, “Not a thing.” He continued, “TNR never worked, cats reproduce much quicker than us humans can keep up with. So how is it that we’re supposed to catch, neuter and release fast enough to put a dent in an exploding population that reproduces much faster as colony numbers increase.? The only good TNR ever did was for the hardcore blind and ignorant cat lovers who wanted to feel a part of a solution that any fool could see had no chance for success.”
Look for Healthy Communities Part 3 of this Special Report in the National Report’s Weekend Edition! That’s when we will answer the question on everyone’s mind… Are cat lovers animal lovers too?