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Feral Cats – The Road Map

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Information about Feral Cats – The Road Map
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Published on December 22, 2008

Author: nsal

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Bryan Kortis, Executive Directorheadcat@neighborhoodcats.org212-662-5761www.neighborhoodcats.org : Bryan Kortis, Executive Directorheadcat@neighborhoodcats.org212-662-5761www.neighborhoodcats.org Feral Cats – The Road Map U.S. Feral Cat Population Estimates : U.S. Feral Cat Population Estimates 13 million in winter, 24 million in summer (Clifton, M., Where cats belong – and where they don’t, ANIMAL PEOPLE (June 2003) .) 50 million (Levy, J., Humane strategies for controlling feral cat populations (2004), Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, Vol. 225, No. 9. ) 60 to 100 million (Alley Cat Allies, Tracking Our Success (2005).) Feral cat overpopulation primarily impacts the fields of: : Feral cat overpopulation primarily impacts the fields of: Animal sheltering & control Public health Wildlife Animal welfare Impact on Animal Sheltering & Control: : Impact on Animal Sheltering & Control: 50 million feral cats = 147 million kittens/yr = 82% of kittens born/yr Pet cats = 85% sterilization rate Feral cats = 2% sterilization rate (Levy, J., Humane strategies for controlling feral cat populations (2004), Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Assn., Vol. 225, No. 9. ) Impact on Animal Sheltering & Control [cont’d] : Impact on Animal Sheltering & Control [cont’d] Kittens + trapped adults = rising: intake & euthanasia rates complaint calls financial costs opportunity costs stress to workers Impact of feral cats on Public Health: : Impact of feral cats on Public Health: rabies other zoonotic diseases (toxoplasmosis, cat scratch fever, etc.) quality of life complaints (odor, noise, unsanitary conditions, dead kittens, property damage) financial costs (investigation) Impact of feral cats on Wildlife: : Impact of feral cats on Wildlife: Predation Competition Potentially devastating impact on sensitive ecosystems of rare species vulnerable to cat attacks Impact on animal welfare: : Impact on animal welfare: high kitten mortality for adults - short average life span in unmanaged situations (cars, cruelty, disease, fighting, etc.) The issue IS NOT whether the presence of feral cats in the environment has negative impacts. : The issue IS NOT whether the presence of feral cats in the environment has negative impacts. The issue IS how can the numbers of feral cats in the environment be reduced and the negative impacts mitigated. The Universe of Choices : The Universe of Choices Do nothing Feeding bans Trap & Remove (usually for euthanasia) Sterilization & vaccination (TNR) Doing nothing fails because: : Doing nothing fails because: Habitat remains suitable Only limit on population is carrying capacity of environment (which can grow) Animal control, animal welfare, public health and wildlife issues unresolved Saying “they shouldn’t be there” with no affirmative action = doing nothing Feeding bans fail because: : Feeding bans fail because: Unenforceable Difficult to remove food sources Cats remain in the territory & still reproduce Malnourished cats lead to parasitic infestations & disease Trap and remove fails because: : Trap and remove fails because: Too many cats, not enough animal control resources Caretaker resistance (when euthanasia is the outcome) “Vacuum effect” from migration and untrapped cats Ongoing abandonment + lack of long-term monitoring Synergistic effect of all these factors Marion Island: a case study in eradication : Marion Island: a case study in eradication 5 unaltered cats (1949) 3405 cats (1977) Feline distemper introduced in 1977 Hunting with shotguns from 1986 through 1989 Trapping and poisoning from 1986 through 1991 14 years of disease, hunting, trapping and poison to eradicate an isolated population with no migratory inflow or human presence Bester, et. al. (2002), A review of the successful eradication of feral cats from sub-Antarctic Marion Island, Southern Indian Ocean, South African Journal of Wildlife Research 32: 65-73. Andersen, M., Martin, B., Roemer, G. (2004), Use of matrix population models to estimate the efficacy of euthanasia versus trap-neuter-return for management of free-roaming cats, Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 225: 1871-1876. : Andersen, M., Martin, B., Roemer, G. (2004), Use of matrix population models to estimate the efficacy of euthanasia versus trap-neuter-return for management of free-roaming cats, Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 225: 1871-1876. Matrix Population Study – Trap/remove vs. TNR “Matrix population models are a primary tool used in wildlife management to set annual guidelines on hunting, trapping and fishing; explore population dynamics; and develop management plans for endangered species. These models use estimates of age- or stage-specific vital rates (reproduction and survival) to project future population structure.” Matrix population study’s conclusions : Matrix population study’s conclusions To reduce feral/stray cat population by 10% a year requires trap and removal of 50% of population each year To reduce feral/stray cat population through TNR requires maintaining a greater than 75% sterilization rate (based on previous studies, not on matrix population analysis) Matrix Population Model Cat population = 1000decrease = 10% annually; no migration : Matrix Population Model Cat population = 1000decrease = 10% annually; no migration “Fantasy” solutions: : “Fantasy” solutions: Socialize/adopt – very difficult & time-consuming to socialize an adult feral Sanctuaries – very few are well-run and many often turn into hoarding situations, plus there are too many cats Cat licensing & leash laws – may or may not help reduce future inflow into the feral population, but don’t address the current problem What is “TNR”? : What is “TNR”? 1. Trap members of a feral colony Neuter the cats (plus rabies vaccination & eartipping) 3. Return the ferals to the original site 4. Long-term caretaking/monitoring of the colony Slide 20: Eartip = ¼ inch straight line cut off tip of left ear TNR Advantages : TNR Advantages Nothing else works Volunteer manpower Less costly if private sector involved Caretaker cooperation Long-term monitoring No vacuums (esp. if widespread) Goals of TNR : Goals of TNR Reduction in number of cats through sterilization, adoption and attrition Improved public health (rabies, nuisance) & decreased predation Humane treatment of existing ferals Published studies on TNR : Published studies on TNR University of Central Florida - 155 cats on campus in 1991 - 23 cats in 2002 (85% ) Levy, et.al. (2003a), Evaluation of the effect of a long-term trap-neuter-return and adoption program on a free-roaming cat population, Journal of American Veterinary Medical Association 222: 42-46. Reece, J.F., S.K. Chawla (2006), Control of rabies in Jaipur, India, by the sterilization and vaccination of neighbourhood dogs, The Veterinary Record, 159: 379-383. : Reece, J.F., S.K. Chawla (2006), Control of rabies in Jaipur, India, by the sterilization and vaccination of neighbourhood dogs, The Veterinary Record, 159: 379-383. Nov. 1994 thru Dec. 2002, in target area: 19,129 dogs were TNR’ed, including 16,445 females, 2684 pre-pubescent males; additional 3313 males were only rabies vaccinated & returned 65% female, 6% male sterilization level attained Jaip Jaipur, India Slide 25: RESULTS: Dog population 28% Rabies cases zero in target area last 2 years of study, increased in other parts of Jaipur Slide 26: University of North Carolina Over two year period: 6 colonies TNR’ed, average 36% 3 control colonies, average 47% Stoskopf, M., Nutter, F. (2004), Analyzing approaches to feral cat management – one size does not fit all, Journal of American Veterinary Medical Association 225: 1361-1364. Empirical examples (TNR) : Empirical examples (TNR) Newburyport, MA - 300 cats in 1991 - 1st year: trapped 200, adopted out 100, returned 100 - 100% sterilization in 1998 - 1 cat left today (35 feeders!) - opened local shelter and spay/neuter clinic to address sources of ferals Slide 28: NYC Feral Cat Database as of 7/24/08 (self-reporting by caretakers) - 458 colonies with at least 1 TNR’ed cat - 6141 cats reported at TNR Start Dates - 4613 cats currently (25% ) - Average s/n rate = 67% - 3183 cats & kittens placed for adoption (6.9 cats per colony) West Valley, Utah (TNR of over 500 cats from 3/04 through 2/05) : West Valley, Utah (TNR of over 500 cats from 3/04 through 2/05) Other Community Examples : Other Community Examples San Francisco – 1993 through 1999, TNR part of comprehensive program inc. s/n, adoptions: intake down 28%, euthanasia down 71% (including 73% for ferals) Indianapolis – Oct. 2004 through Dec 2007, 10,000 feral s/n’s: intake down 37%, euthanasia down 29%. Long Beach, NY – over 400 feral s/n’s since April 2005. Intake down 62% in 2007 cf. 2005. TNR-enabling legislation (sample) : TNR-enabling legislation (sample) Chicago Indianapolis Baltimore Salt Lake County Santa Cruz County Sacramento County Burlington County, NJ (5 townships) Implementing a Community TNR Program : Implementing a Community TNR Program Guiding Principle #1: the “70 percent rule” - required s/n level for population stabilization “90%” = population reduction! Implications of the “90% rule” for a Community TNR Program : Implications of the “90% rule” for a Community TNR Program Mass Trapping – support TNR of entire colony at once Spay/neuter allocation – must be properly targeted Spay/neuter allocation & 90% rule : Spay/neuter allocation & 90% rule Community A - 250 feral cats in 25 colonies/caretakers with 10 cats each -100 spay/neuters allocated 4 per caretaker Community B - 250 feral cats in 25 colonies/caretakers with 10 cats each - 100 spay/neuters allocated 10 for 10 colonies Success vs. Failure : Success vs. Failure Community A Sterilization level per colony too low to achieve reduced populations Community B Falling populations in 40% of colonies Lesson: it’s better to be targeted than fair Implementing a Community TNR Program : Implementing a Community TNR Program Guiding Principle #2: Must choose correct orientation of the program: Expert vs. Grassroots Expert: program’s experts do the hands-on work of trapping, transport, etc. Grassroots: program trains the public/caretakers to do the hands-on work & coordinates services Expert vs. Grassroots – Factors to Consider : Expert vs. Grassroots – Factors to Consider Size of the feral cat population Size of the human population Available TNR resources (funding, s/n capacity, equipment, trappers) Geographic size of target area Example of Expert Program : Example of Expert Program Long Beach, NY 500 to 1000 cats human population 30,000 moderate size geographically Several trained trappers Supportive local veterinary clinic Example of Grassroots program : Example of Grassroots program New York City Tens of thousands of cats 8 million human population Vast geographic size Over 1500 caretakers trained since 2002 Coordinated system among a dozen organizations to provide TNR services TNR “Coaches” assist newly trained If you choose the wrong orientation…. : If you choose the wrong orientation…. Choose an “expert” model in a grassroots situation, can’t fix enough cats for an overall impact Choose a “grassroots” model when an expert approach would work, progress is unnecessarily slowed It’s possible to combine approaches, but must decide on fundamental orientation Implementing a Community TNR Program : Implementing a Community TNR Program Guiding Principle #3: Collaboration!! -Municipality (inc. animal control, public health) -Shelters/rescue/TNR groups -Veterinarians -Wildlife -Caretakers -Residents Implementing a Community TNR Program : Implementing a Community TNR Program Guiding Principle #4: Maximize Caretaker Participation - Incentive-based laws w/reasonable standards, not punitive - Colony registration w/trusted agency - Access to services - Caretaker networks - Food drives Implementing a Community TNR Program : Implementing a Community TNR Program Guiding Principle #5: Separate rescue from TNR – create a TNR identity -Partner with traditional shelter or adoption groups OR have separate budgets/staff -Place fostering responsibility on caretaker & offer supportive services -Stay out of the socialization and relocation businesses The Feral Cat Kit (CD/DVD) : The Feral Cat Kit (CD/DVD) “Trap-Neuter-Return: How to Fix Feral Cat Overpopulation” – 16 min. policy DVD directed by Bryan Kortis “How to Perform a Mass Trapping” – 32 min. DVD produced by Neighborhood Cats 3. “The Neighborhood Cats TNR Handbook: A Guide to Trap-Neuter-Return for the Feral Cat Caretaker” – manual authored by Neighborhood Cats 4. “Implementing a Community Trap-Neuter-Return Program” – manual authored by Bryan Kortis Go to: www.hsus.org/feralcats (click on “Resources”) - $24.99 Lots of info at: : Lots of info at: www.neighborhoodcats.org www.hsus.org/feralcats

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