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