Effective Trap, Neuter, Return Programs

by Michael
(London, UK)

Scottish Wild cat - Photo by gnasheruk

Scottish Wild cat - Photo by gnasheruk

Effective trap, neuter, return programs need to be wide ranging and not localized. And for them to be long-lasting the root cause of the supply needs to be strangled, namely irresponsible ownership and that can only be achieved through regulations governing ownership. This is my opinion and I expect many to disagree.

In Scotland a very bold TNR program is planned. I wonder, is it the biggest trap neuter return program ever? Over a range of 7,000 square the plan is to trap, neuter and return 100,000 feral cats that live in the Western Highlands of Scotland to stop them breeding with the scarce, highly endangered Scottish Wild cat of which there are about 400 left.

The feral cats dilute the genes of the Scottish Wild cat by mating with it. The hybrid offspring then mate some more and this most precious of wildcats gradually becomes genetically extinct.

And Jim Sanderson PhD is right. He says that we cannot criticise the authorities in India for failing to save the tiger if we fail ourselves.

I have criticised both countries. Fortunately generous grants from Scottish expats living in America and Sir Cameron Mackintosh's Mackintosh Foundation have come to the rescue and provided some real funding of £750,000 to pay for a massive TNR program.

Once the feral cats are are neutered the wild cat will, it is hoped be able to recolonize their natural habitat.

Is this the first time that feral cat TNR has been used to save a wild species as opposed to simply trying to control feral cats for our benefit?

What I am not sure about, however, is how this immensely impressive and effective trap neuter return program will be made to endure. If irresponsible ownership goes on unabated eventually feral cats will recolonise the Western Highlands again, won't they?

I feel that effective trap, neuter, return programs need a two pronged approach; tackle the cats humanely on a wide and "inclusive" scale and stop future supply of feral cats by abandonment of domestic cats.

I also feel that the reason why some people criticise TNR for failing and it does fail on a general level because there is no overall change in the numbers of feral cats, is because the TNR programs are localised, perhaps carried out by individuals or small groups of individuals.

This is great work but I don't feel it can succeed in the long run as neighbouring colonies of feral cats occupy the cleared area or people abandon their cats in areas where TNR takes place topping up the numbers.

Just a thought. But I love the idea of a major effective trap, neuter, return program in Scotland to help the Scottish Wildcat to survive. There is a weakness here too, I feel. We don't know how many Scottish Wildcats are hybrids of the wildcat and the feral cat because we don't have a complete DNA profile of an original genetically undiluted Scottish Wildcat against which we can test the existing populations. Perhaps they are already a different animal from the original that first inhabited the United Kingdom 9,000 years ago.

See original photo on Flickr

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Effective Trap, Neuter, Return Programs to Feral Cats

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Effective Trap, Neuter, Return Programs

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May 18, 2012 Why TNR often fail
by: Anonymous

I believe the reason why TNR often fail is not because they are localised. The main reason is many caretakers fail to catch cats or dogs fast enough. They shall neuter at least 70-80% of them in one reproduction cycle and continue to keep that neuter ratio to stablise the population. Since constance feeding improve the health condition of the animals and their gathering for food provide great oppotunity for them to breed, TNR can easliy speed up the reproduction rate and create more poor little lifes and have them suffer in wild. I regard THR as an animal cruelty program rather than animal welfare program.

In addition, it is often the Animal Welfare Organization claims that it is a sucessful measure but the people living around those TNR sites found it a disaster. My conclusion is TNR is a very exepensive and ineffective program in controlling animal population and it also induce lots of confrontation in local community.

For your information, the number of stray cat we found in Hong Kong increased more than 3 times after the cat TNR introduced in 2000 and it is still more than double last year when compared to the number we found before 2000. The number of complaints on cat nuisance increased more that 5 times and now is still almost 3 times as compared to the number we had before 2000.

Jun 27, 2011 Quartz
by: Anonymous

What a huge waste of money and resources! It is unbelievable how silly people are...maybe it's people who need to be neutered, then die out, so that the worlds animal populations can re establish themselves naturally...just a thought 🙂

Apr 14, 2010 Thanks
by: Michael

Thanks Steve for commenting. It is welcome and useful.

I am very impressed by the scale and commitment of this project. I think we need to do things big in the wild cat world. I see too many half baked half cock initiatives achieving little. I am thinking mainly of the tiger.

The Scottish wild cat is a UK treasure. It belongs to the world and needs to be saved. Shame that it always seems that the human race has to go to the eleventh hour before taking real action.

Apr 07, 2010 TNR responses
by: Steve, Scottish Wildcat Assoc

Just to respond to these very pertinent thoughts on our planned TNR work.

Inevitably there will always be irresponsible cat owners and cats going feral, as part of our project we will be heavily publicising responsible cat ownership throughout the region, even amongst non cat owners in the hope of changing the root culture; making it unacceptable to have unneutered cats, subsidised neutering will be more widely available as well for those with little money and "neuter scooters" are planned to help people get to remote vets if they have no transport. Over time, we hope this will stem the flow of new ferals in the Wildcat Haven region.

TNR often fails because it is very small and localised as you say, doing TNR on the edge of a big city for example is pointless, it takes just days for surrounding ferals to fill any gaps or muscle out the less dominant neuters, there is also the issue that many TNR workers don't just put out bait to trap cats, they set up long term feedin stations, creating a surplus resource and attracting more ferals from outside, it's a classic case of misguided welfare where what seems kind is really just creating more misery and homeless cats.

If you look at a map of the west highlands you should notice a large body of water dividing it from the mainland; Loch Ness, just three land bridges attach the west highlands to mainland Scotland, it is almost an island. In that lies our hope; if we get people who live there being resposible, neuter all the resident ferals and set up heavily and regularly trapped "borders" at those three points, no neighbouring feral cats can get in. Ongoing targeted trapping in the long term will hopefully deal with issues like kitten dumping.

So the scale of the project is really about creating an effective island haven for the wildcat with TNR as our primary tool for doing so. As we work tere will also be further research into the wildcat population to see just what hybridisation has done so far, everyone feel there is definitely a genetically distinct wildcat left, it may not be 100% pure, but it is well worth conserving!

Steve Piper
Scottish Wildcat Associations

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