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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Cat Fight! The TNR Wars


Although trap-neuter-return (TNR) programs for feral cats are in use or being proposed in many communities, a number of non-governmental organizations have gone on record as being opposed to them. For example, The Wildlife Society’s (TWS) policy statement on feral cats (2011) includes a comment that TWS “Oppose the passage of any local or state ordinances that legalize the maintenance of “managed” (trap/neuter/release) free-ranging cat colonies.” Similarly, the American Bird Conservancy’s (ABC) resolution on free-roaming cats (feral and tamed) states that ABC “strongly opposes managed free-roaming cat colonies.” Wildlife managers often lament the loss of tools and techniques (e.g., traps, pesticides, regulatory authority) for managing “nuisance” animals. The attack against TNR programs is indicative of an active program to eliminate a management tool. Is the negativity toward TNR justified? Stated another way, do the negative aspects of TNR programs outweigh any positive elements? I argue that the complete rejection of TNR is premature, erroneous, and without merit.

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