Where Cats Belong And Where They Don’t
This 2003 Animal People article discusses the feral cat situation, specifically in Florida, and the controversial relationship with wildlife management. Specific discussions relate to trap/neuter/return (TNR) programs and to the policy development behind control of feral cat populations.
Florida’s 2003 feral cat population was estimated at 2.8 million, or 4% of the total cat population, and twice as high as 2003 the U.S. overall. Local TNR programs adopted in the early 1990s however, have reduced the number of animal control killings, and have kept the feral cat population lower than what it otherwise might have been.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FFWCC) has been at odds with the feral cat population, and has been opposed to TNR when it is a threat to native wildlife. Some strategies to address the issue have been to:
- Educate the public about the impacts of feral and free ranging cats on wildlife
- Identify ways for cat owners to minimize impact
- Inform public of laws prohibiting release or abandonment of cats to the wild
- Eliminate the “threat cats pose to the viability of local populations of wildlife…”
- Prohibit the release, feeding or protection of cats on lands managed by the FFWCC and oppose programs that allow so
- Provide technical advice, support and partnerships to land management agencies to prevent release, feeding or protection of cats on public lands that support wildlife
- Oppose creation and supporting of “elimination of TNR colonies…wherever they potentially and significantly impact local wildlife populations”
- Evaluate the need for new rules to minimize the impacts of cats on native wildlife
This article also discusses the history and development behind existing feral cat policies, and the theory behind the effectiveness of TNR.
TNR is biologically effective at reducing cat numbers by inhibiting the reproduction potential of survivors. Where at least 70% of the potential breeding population have been sterilized, the remainder have difficulty reproducing at more than the replacement level.