Alaska’s Department of Fish and Game (ADFG) have rejected TNR. Anchorage News reports that the Board of Game (the board) of the ADFG “rejected a bid to allow the release of sterilized feral cats into Alaska’s wilds.” My interpretation of that is a rejection of TNR. It is in fact a rejection of the legalisation of TNR. Alley Cat Allies states that the decision follows a proposal (‘Proposal 62’) to legalize TNR. At present (and this will continue) cats are one species that cannot be released into the wild in Alaska. Therefore TNR is prohibited because TNR releases feral cats to where they lived which could be in “the wild”.
The decision to reject the legalisation of TNR (trap-neuter-release) in Alaska was based in part on an estimate. Sorry but I am tired of major decisions concerning feral cats being based on estimated statistics. It is bad management.
The statistic that TNR is ineffective unless 71-94 percent of the cats are neutered was influential in the decision because the board felt this was a “hard to reach” goal. I think they felt it was unlikely to be reached. However, there are many studies where TNR has been successful in stabilising cat colonies. And I don’t know where this statistic comes from. At the meeting a biologist, Brynn Parr made the point. It seems that scientific associations and the veterinarians also quote this statistic. It needs to be verified in my view.
Another reason why the board did not want to legalise TNR is because of the constantly returning problem: the predation of wildlife by feral cats. It is the duty of the board to protect wildlife. They believe that feral cats can have a bad impact on wildlife. This is probable fuelled by a long running debate in Australia on the subject which has been well publicised.
Despite there being no hard, reliable research figures on the impact of feral cats on birds, some lawmakers have convinced themselves that feral cats wipe out bird populations.
Another reason why the board rejected TNR is the same reason why PETA reject it too: they consider it inhumane. They believe that to release feral cats back to where they came from only puts then in a dire situation where they struggle to survive and live miserable lives.
One board member, Stosh Hoffman, made his assessment about the inhumane nature of TNR on spotting one feral cat colony at a village dump – hardly scientific. The counter argument here is that when feral cat colonies are managed within TNR programs their lives can be reasonable.
TNR still faces barriers to universal acceptance in America. There is no reasonable alternative. I would like federal governments to commit to it and make the 71-94% target attainable consistently.
Comment: I does not surprise me because Alaska is a wild place where wildlife is more under the spotlight than in most other states. However, I believe the decision is based on flawed information and reasoning.
Note: I will reject comments from cat hating trolls. All comments must be reasonable, polite and well argued. The picture (less the text) is by Phillip Martin.