Feral cat disaster must be solved - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Opinion

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Feral cat disaster must be solved

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Posted: Thursday, November 25, 2010 9:30 pm

I take very strong exception to the Oct. 15 pet article, entitled "National Feral Cat Day is Saturday," in which the author, Michelle Andria, is asking for everyone to celebrate this day. My question is why in the world would any factually informed person want to celebrate a non-native, invasive predatory species that is slaughtering our native wildlife, destroying habitat and spreading disease? Cats do not add to biodiversity - they deplete it. This hoarding by proxy is horrendously destructive on many fronts and is simply not acceptable.

The feral cat disaster is human caused and must have a human and humane resolution. The Trap, Neuter and Return (TNR) policy is not working. Period. Repeating myths like "the cats are happy and healthy and the colonies will disappear through normal attrition" are not true and do not make the current TNR programs acceptable. According to www.TNRrealitycheck.com, "feral cats succumb to disease or tragedy, not old age." In the meantime, a cat's hunting instinct cannot be dampened, no matter how well fed these animals may be. As for being healthy, remember that these feral cats share the same space with RVS (rabies vector species) and are not vaccinated for anything. The Wildlife Disease Association (http://www.wildlifedisease.org/Documents/WDA_RESOLUTION_ON_FERAL_CATS.pdf) also "supports actions by wildlife management and land management agencies, public health agencies and private organizations to ban or eliminate feral cat colonies." They state that "feral and free-ranging cats may serve as reservoirs of disease for native wildlife and the public."

One wonders why TNR folks consider it "killing" if a cat is humanely euthanized, yet it doesn't seem to bother them that every year millions of our native species, including hummingbirds, songbirds, baby squirrels, bunnies and lizards, are killed and/or euthanized because of a cat, either feral or house. The only options I see for saving our priceless wildlife and our environment from another, yet unnecessary, man-caused disaster are either 1) trap and euthanize all stray roaming cats or 2) pass legislation to forbid the maintenance of any feral cat colonies on any public land, but allow the TNR organizations to continue to trap and neuter, but only if they retain and contain the animals in secure housing on privately owned land, maintain all vaccinations, dispose of waste properly and obtain a license to do this work.

I suggest to anyone interested in these situations to do a lot of research, starting with the above www.TNRrealitycheck.com website along, with the American Bird Conservancy site, www.abcbirds.org. Both sites are excellent and offer many more informative links. Everyone needs to be realistic, use common sense and start thinking long term with the environmental "Big Picture" in mind rather than making decisions based solely on passion and emotion.

Gloria Halesworth, along with her husband, Paul, own WildWing Rehabilitation, Inc., in Ahwatukee Foothills. They have state and federal licensure to rehabilitate migratory birds and specialize in hummingbirds and insectivorous songbirds.

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