Although they won’t admit it, it seems likely to me that the U.S. Navy at Guantánamo Bay is quietly trapping and killing feral cats to remove them from the base because of a directive from the Chief of Naval Operations of 10th January 2002 which makes it clear that trap-neuter-release (TNR) programs are not allowed on naval bases. We are told that there are 500 feral cats at the Guantánamo Bay naval base which the establishment would consider to be a potential public health threat to personnel and a threat to wildlife including endangered species and migratory birds.
The management of feral cats is referred to as “pest management”. The directive says that management at naval bases should use every effort to work with other federal, state and local agencies to eliminate freeroaming cat and dog populations on Navy land. The feeding of feral cats is prohibited. Responsible pet ownership is highly encouraged.
“Consistent with this policy, Navy commands must ensure the humane capture and removal of freeroaming cats and dogs. Consistent with this requirement, Trap/Neuter/Release (TNR) programs will no longer be established on Navy land. All existing TNR programs on Navy land must be terminated no later than 1 January 2003”.
Spokeswoman, Julie Ann Ripley said in an email: “Navy regulations ensure all species are legally and humanely managed.”
I’m not sure what that rather obtuse comment means but it does hint at treatment which is not strictly humane or perhaps I’m being a little bit too cynical.
Apparently, SPCA International is working with people at the base an attempt to spay and neuter the animals. Also, apparently, work is taking place to set up a non-profit to allow those on the base to adopt cats which are suitable for adoption.
That said, as mentioned, TNR is forbidden on the base so I’m not sure what the position is although in all likelihood the cats are probably being trapped and disposed of but things may change.
It is interesting also that Navy regulations forbid TNR. The Navy directive does not explain why TNR is forbidden. Perhaps they think it is ineffective or too slow to take effect. It is the most humane way of reducing feral cat populations despite what some people think. If the cats on the base are truly feral then in order to comply with the directive’s demand that the cats be treated humanely, TNR is the only choice.