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Posts Tagged ‘TNR’

Sorry, Cat Lovers, TNR Simply Does Not Work

Posted by Richard Conniff on January 10, 2017

“Cat eating a rabbit” (Photo: Eddy Van 3000)

While this site is on a bit of a hiatus, I am re-posting this 2014 piece on the feral cat fight.

by Richard Conniff

Various estimates say that anywhere from 20 to 100 million feral cats roam the United States. Together with pet cats that are allowed to wander free, they kill billions of birds, mammals, and other animals every year.

Every time I write about the need to deal with this rapidly worsening problem, certain readers argue for a method called TNR, which stands for “trap, neuter, and release,” or sometimes “trap, neuter, and return.” So let’s take a look at how it might work.

TNR is an idea with enormous appeal for many animal welfare organizations, because it means cat shelters no longer have to euthanize unwanted cats: They just neuter and immunize them, then ship them back out into the world. It’s a way to avoid the deeply dispiriting business of putting animals down, not to mention the expense of feeding and caring for the animals during the usual waiting period for a possible adoption. And it enables animal shelters to put on a happier face for donors: “We’re a shelter, not a slaughterhouse.”

TNR advocates generally cite a handful of studies as evidence that this method works. The pick of the litter is a 2003 study that supporters say shows TNR enabled the University of Central Florida to reduce the feral cat population on its Orlando campus by 66 percent. On closer examination, though, what that study showed was that

Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted in Conservation and Extinction, Environmental Issues | Tagged: , , , | 8 Comments »

The Fake Science That Keeps Cats on the Streets

Posted by Richard Conniff on October 31, 2015

“Cat eating a rabbit” (Photo: Eddy Van 3000)

This is a piece I wrote a while ago. I read it again today and realized that it still makes an awful lot of sense, especially because the fake science of TNR is still alive in the world and at least some eager-to-please politicians are gullible enough to buy it:

Various estimates say that anywhere from 20 to 100 million feral cats—an introduced and heavily subsidized predator—now roam the United States. Together with pet cats that are allowed to wander free, they kill billions of birds, mammals, and other animals every year. Every time I write about the need to deal with this rapidly worsening problem, certain readers argue for a method called TNR, which stands for “trap, neuter, and release,” or sometimes “trap, neuter, and return.”

So let’s take a look at how it might work.

TNR is an idea with enormous appeal for many animal welfare organizations, because it means cat shelters no longer have to euthanize unwanted cats: They just neuter and immunize them, then ship them back out into the world. It’s a way to avoid the deeply dispiriting business of putting animals down, not to mention the expense of feeding and caring for the animals during the usual waiting period for a possible adoption. And it enables animal shelters to put on a happier face for donors: “We’re a shelter, not a slaughterhouse.”

TNR advocates generally cite a handful of studies as evidence that this method works. The pick of the litter is a 2003 study in which TNR enabled the University of Central Florida to reduce the feral cat population on its Orlando campus by 66 percent. On closer examination, though, what that study actually showed Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Environmental Issues | Tagged: , | 11 Comments »

Readers Respond To “The Evil of Outdoor Cats”

Posted by Richard Conniff on March 31, 2014

(Illustration:  Christelle Enault )

(Illustration: Christelle Enault )

These letters appeared today in the NY Times, in response to my article “The Evil of the Outdoor Cat.”

The letter from the Humane Society executive is the most interesting.  It says that neither the Humane Society nor other groups can sell euthanasia of feral cats to the public, and therefore we should leave feral cats free to kill wildlife, as we have known them to do for almost a century.

This is a highly selective, even perverse, notion of “animal welfare,” for an outfit that describes itself as “the nation’s largest animal protection organization” dedicated to preventing “cruelty before it occurs” and seeking “a humane and sustainable world for all animals.”

Maybe they mean they are for preventing cruelty, “except when we can’t sell it to the public.”

To the Editor:

Re “The Evil of the Outdoor Cat,” by Richard Conniff (Sunday Review, March 23):

Thank you for addressing a portion of the litany of problems with allowing cats to roam outdoors. There is a new trend by “no kill” “rescue” groups, which oppose all euthanasia, to release even tame cats into the not-so-great outdoors to take their chances as part of trap-neuter-release programs. In addition to killing wildlife and running afoul of it, these cats succumb to freezing winter weather, traffic, infections and infestations, human beings with evil intentions, and other perils.

As a humane officer for many years, I’ve seen it all and can attest to the fact that cats’ predation on other animals aside, it is not kind to allow them to come to such harsh and painful ends. Trap-neuter-return is illegal in most states because it constitutes abandonment of an animal, and should be in all.

INGRID E. NEWKIRK
President, People for the Ethical
Treatment of Animals
Washington, March 24, 2014

To the Editor:

Richard Conniff sensitively explores an issue that is an impossible dilemma for cat owners. Keeping a cat indoors amounts to caging an animal that was meant to run and roam, and it can make life miserable for both cat and owner. Yet being responsible for the death of small animals, birds especially, is also unacceptable.

I do take issue with Mr. Conniff’s offhand comment that Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Environmental Issues | Tagged: , , | 5 Comments »

The Unnatural World of Killer House Cats

Posted by Richard Conniff on March 28, 2014

Adorable but deadly (Photo: Richard Conniff)

Adorable but deadly (Photo: Richard Conniff)

My latest for Takepart:

Earlier this week, I published an article in the New York Times remembering a cat I once owned and loved named Lucky. She was my last outdoor cat, partly because her own death was a bloody reminder of just how dangerous the outdoor life can be for the cats themselves: She died one night, torn to pieces by a bobcat, after 10 years of wandering freely around the neighborhood.

But she was also my last outdoor cat because I realized, after the fact, how deadly outdoor cats can be for wildlife: By letting Lucky wander freely, I had made it possible for her to kill hundreds of birds, mammals, reptiles, and amphibians over the years. While writing about wildlife and maintaining my own yard with wildlife in mind, I had unintentionally been stripping wildlife from the entire neighborhood.

Other cat owners are increasingly coming to the same grim realization—in part because of a federal study last year that added up the billions of animals killed by cats every year in the Lower 48 States. I argued in my article that outdoor cats will soon be as socially unacceptable as smoking in the office, or leaving dog poop on the sidewalk. The editors headlined it “The Evil of Outdoor Cats,” and it attracted widespread attention on the web, some of it angry. One reader commented that a better headline would have been “The Evil of Humans.”

A lot of readers misunderstood a central point I was trying to make about the dramatic decline in bird populations in this country, and about the loss of habitat. Readers commented correctly that the real menace to wildlife comes from suburban sprawl, agricultural intensification, logging, mining, industrial pollution, and climate change. But a lot of cat-owners seemed to think that was an argument for continuing to let their cats go outside to kill. “Whatever damage cats are doing,” a reader in Seattle commented, “it can only be a small fraction of the many human-caused threats to wildlife, in particular habitat destruction.” It was like arguing that, because there are wars going on out there, my little murders shouldn’t count.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Conservation and Extinction, Environmental Issues | Tagged: , , , | 14 Comments »

The Deadly Gamble When Cats Go Free

Posted by Richard Conniff on February 10, 2014

The Washington Post ran a story over the weekend about feral cats and the flawed and falsely “humane” ideology of “trap-neuter-release,” or TNR.  Here’s an excerpt:

 The American Bird Conservancy points to the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute’s 2013 review of previously published studies that estimated free-roaming cats kill 1.3 billion to 4 billion birds a year. Unowned cats do most of the killing, the study said. (Animal welfare groups such as the Humane Society of the United States have questioned the study’s validity.)

But these groups present no comparable peer-reviewed studies. That puts them in the same category as climate change skeptics who Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Environmental Issues | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

Twitter Rant Names Me World’s Laziest Journo

Posted by Richard Conniff on November 7, 2013

Mom would be so proud.

O.K., it’s a little odd, though entertaining, for me to be attacked by a group that calls itself the Endangered Species Coalition.  Odder still, they’re attacking me for my article describing the threat to endangered species from free-roaming and feral cats and dogs.

But, gosh, it sure makes Tweeting between 11 p.m. and 2 a.m. seem like fun.  Is that “leagerly” or “Ieagerly”?

  1. I do research so @RichardConniff doesn’t have to, apparently. Ieagerly await his reply on his ridiculous TNR assertion.

  2. @NYTmag your contributor @RichardConniff says trap/neuter/release is just “animal abuse by a different name”. Do you agree?

  3. .@NatGeo Your contractor @Richardconniff is representing himself as your agent with his inaccurate piece about TNR http://www.takepart.com/article/2013/11/04/when-cruelty-comes-masked-animal-welfare …

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