TNR – trap neuter release – during coronavirus crisis

There is a noticeable lack of information as to what is happening in respect of TNR in communities across America during the coronavirus crisis. My guess (please comment) is that it is deemed to be inessential and therefore banned under state coronavirus regulations.

TNR should continue during the coronavirus crisis. Collage: PoC. Pic: Humane Soc.

A case in point is reported in The Royal Gazette concerning TNR in Bermuda where the police stopped volunteers who had been given a waiver from the rules to feed the cats. Permission to continue to care for community cats was pulled on Saturday to the consternation of many. I can see why. As Rose Powell the president of the charity Cats Bermuda said, their volunteers do not put the public at risk.

We are able to care for these homeless animals to ensure they do not starve to death without any interaction with any other human.

TNR can be conducted while complying with social distancing rules. In fact TNR is an activity that is highly suited to social distancing. The volunteers who care for feral cats naturally work more than 2 meters apart. And where they work is often in out of the way places because feral cats are shy of people. Feral cats live in deserted buildings and abandoned industrial estates. There is no one there. So why aren’t TNR programs across the US allowed to continue? Are there some states or cities where they’ve been allowed to carry on?

Nathan Winograd in his article ‘TNR in the Age of Coronavirus’ writes, ‘TNR should continue to be part of such care if animals face risk of death’. There is the moral aspect too. Humans have created this pandemic because of their uncivilised interactions with wild animals. Do we compound that bad behavior by starving feral cats and killing them in shelters? Feral cats are our responsibility as humans created them out of carelessness.

The best solutions are ones which find a compromise and which demonstrate a flexible and enlightened approach. To shut down TNR completely is a very blunt, black-and-white process that might do more harm than good in the long term. For instance, there will be more feral cats. A lot of residents perceive feral cats as disease spreaders. Stopping TNR may not, in general, improve public health and it is certain to cause more suffering in the feral cat colonies of America.


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Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in a many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

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