Sunday, November 23, 2014

Shelter neuter return SNR aka Return to Field, Feral Freedom etc

I often read comments about animal protection programs that a vocal animal advocate is unfamiliar with, disagrees with, or misinterprets honestly or deliberately. Some do not realize what they do not know! In early November I contacted the leading creators and promoters of Shelter Neuter Return SNR sharing some commentary and reactions* while seeking clarification on my understanding that attempting to identify and return owned cats was a basic practice. I received some helpful responses.

* An Embrace of SNR, With Caveats by Nathan J. Winograd of No Kill Advocacy
* TZI Recommends Shelter Should Not Let You Have Your Lost Cat Back on Yes Biscuit
* Michigan Humane Goes Rogue on Mandatory Holding Periods for Stray Cats Lacking Identification

Below is an example of a citizen's reaction or perspective on a different aspect of SNR:

Published: November 23, 2014 3:00 a.m.
Stray cat episode ends with a lesson
Frank Gray Journal Gazette
It's been about five months since the city adopted a community cat program, and most people would probably agree that it's a lot better than the way stray cats used to be treated.
Under the program, strays are caught, neutered, implanted with a microchip and brought back to where they came from. The idea is that once they are neutered, they won't reproduce, and eventually the population of stray cats will diminish.
It's a more pleasant alternative to catching cats and killing them.
But the program can have unintended consequences, it seems, and it's got one local resident pretty upset.
A few days ago, Karen McClintock was visiting a restaurant in the area of Stellhorn and Maplecrest when a cat approached her. It was cute. It was very friendly. She might have even taken it home, except she has several animals already.
A friend with McClintock said she wanted the cat. But that wouldn't be right, McClintock said, giving away what could be someone else's cat that had just wandered away from home.
She called the SPCA, hoping she could drop the cat off there, but she says she was told they didn't accept strays.
That's technically not correct. The SPCA says it will take strays, but the shelter can handle only so many cats. The shelter could have put McClintock on a waiting list and called her when space opened up, but that meant she would have had to keep the animal, perhaps for several days.
So she took the cat to Fort Wayne Animal Care & Control, figuring the cat would be held for a few days and then put up for adoption if the owner, if there was one, never came looking for the cat.
Eventually McClintock decided she'd go to animal control in a few days and adopt the cat herself if the owner didn't show up.
To her shock, though, she found out the animal wasn't held at the shelter but had been declared a community cat, something she wasn't familiar with. It had been almost immediately sent to another organization, which had neutered the animal, cut a notch in its ear and implanted a microchip. It would then drop the cat off approximately where it was found.
McClintock was beside herself and angry that this could happen.
But with a community cat policy, that's the way anything reported as a stray is handled these days.
So if you find a stray and you want it, keep it.

A few days ago Best Friends wrote about SNR in How the U.S. shelter system is failing cats by Francis Battista
The strategy of making cats immediately available for adoption if they don’t have ID is gaining traction in the sheltering community. Chicago recently implemented a new city-wide policy that includes this provision as part of a broader effort to move animals out of the shelter environment more quickly. Meanwhile, in neighboring Michigan, the strategy of eliminating hold times for cats with no ID (implemented by the Michigan Humane Society) appears to be in violation of state law, so it is likely that the property rights issue will have to be sorted out on a state-by-state basis.
I sought and located answers to questions on all aspects of animal and cat issues in 2001 (when little was available) and since. Here is a related resource from my files:

Lost and Found: Humane Societies' Rights and Obligations Regarding Companion Animal Ownership by Patricia Bolen in 2005 on Animal Legal and Historical Center ( .) Read the entire, but note particularly sections on shelter's duties plus holding periods. AnimalLaw is a great resource and appreciation to them again for placing cat and feral cat law information since 2005 when I broached the topics to Prof Favre.

I've mentioned before, the tragic cat issues faced today were made clear at least 15 years ago. For me, this was first learned in 2001 from the 1998 book Save Our Strays by Bob Christiansen. I am deeply appreciative though for each slow step of progress that some front line stakeholders have made.

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previous related Feral Cat Blog! posts: use search box at left of top blue menu bar with keywords shelter neuter return or SNR, return to field or RTF, Feral Freedom, feline shelter intake reduction, cat diversion program, keeping cats out of shelters, trap neuter return, community cat management, feral cat management, nonlethal cat management, comprehensive cat management, and many more!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Stray Animal Control in Northampton County, PA: analysis of community needs

I read the Animal Control assessment below on October 26, 2014 and now getting posting! Have for years located, retained, and shared similar animal control or animal protection info by cities or counties or states or animal shelters and organizations because it is (still) somewhat rare to find even basic information. Such reports will often be incomplete or contain questionable information but at least it is an attempt by some animal entities to do a basic assessment of what the animal shelter or community has and what is needed. Sometimes these are done by staff in the source government, other times a consultant will be hired; they have also been done by knowledgeable volunteer animal advocates or animal nonprofits. In this case, one notes Section II was prepared by consultants Humane Society Management Services, LLC. John Snyder retired from Humane Society of the US in summer 2011. (There have been a variety of consultants in animal protection including the more recent "no-kill" consultants. Maybe I'll list them some time.)

Analysis of Community Needs: Stray Animal Control in Northampton County, PA
August 2013

Section I: The Handling of Stray Dogs in Northampton County
Prepared by David L. Woglom, Associate Director for Public Service Lafayette College, Robert B. and Helen S. Meyner Center for the
Study of State and Local Government

Section II: Stray Animal Facilities and Management: Models and Options for Northampton County
Prepared by Karel Minor, Chief Executive Officer, Damon March, Chief Operating Officer; and John Snyder, Consultant Humane Society Management Services, LLC

This reported was supported by a grant provided by the Northampton County Gaming Revenue and Economic Redevelopment Authority


This reported has outlined a wide range of service models. These range from the least beneficial to animals, government and residents; merely shipping off a the 808 stray dogs handled by municipalities each year to another county to face a 50% or higher euthanasia rate; to comprehensive service models in which a high end estimate of perhaps 6,000 animals of all species, stray and
relinquished, could be housed, cared for and adopted with a save rate as high as 90%. Although an enormous divide exists between the two levels of service and the number saved- up to 7.5 times more assisted and saved- there divide between the cost to provide these two disparate level of service to the community could be as low as a multiple of 1.5 to 4 times.

Nationally, the cost of municipal animal control services is estimated to be $4 per resident 9. In Northampton County, with a 2010 population of 298,476, that would amount to $1.2 million dollars. This is an amount which would allow Northampton to provide spectacular services to its animals and residents if it was approached in a well thought out, thoroughly planned, and sustainable fashion. Certainly anything less than this amount would provide more service and value which is currently being offered: next to nothing.

Northampton County is fortunate in some ways to have been forced into a position of taking action. Animal welfare efforts are undergoing a renaissance in Pennsylvania as the performance of many of its organizations and the models under which they operate are improving and beginning to keep pace with better models around the nation after decades of stagnation. State and local government are
now, by choice or by necessity, beginning to take on the responsibility of community animal control. And increasingly, the public expects that our communities will direct the resources needed to keep both people and animals safe and secure. Northampton has an opportunity to become a leading humane community in Pennsylvania and do so in an effective, efficient, and fiscally responsible
manner. This report provides many means of accomplishing those possibilities should Northampton County’s governments and resident determine they have the will to do so.

Multiple nonlethal approaches needed to deal with cat issues

Read this when published a few days ago.

Creative approach is needed to deal with cat issues
Diane Crocker
Published on November 19, 2014

[excerpts, always read entire]

The Newfoundland and Labrador Landbird Recovery Team has undertaken a project to help municipalities in the province find ways to deal with cat issues.

Darroch Whitaker of the Newfoundland and Labrador Landbird Recovery Team spoke at a meeting of the Humber Natural History Society in Corner Brook on Tuesday night.

That’s because scientific research is showing that cats — in particular feral and free-roaming cats (pet cats that are allowed outside) — are the main threats facing wild birds in North America.
In terms of direct mortality of birds, things like motor vehicles, power lines, wind farms and oil spills, cats count for about 70 per cent of all bird mortality in Canada.

And while it brings with it questions of inhumane treatment of animals, when compared to trap, neuter and release, Whitaker doesn’t think euthanization of cats should be written off.
He said the case can also be made that trap, neuter and release is not humane.
“You’re essentially re-abandoning them,” he said
But Whitaker also thinks that you have to be more creative than looking to euthanization as the only alternative, and that is what the recovery team is doing.
Some ideas discussed so far include the licensing of cats with different fees depending on if it is spayed or neutered, breaking the economic and geographic barriers to getting cats spayed or neutered, the use of devices to reduce the ability of cats to catch birds and education for pet owners on the dangers of letting their cats outside.
No new info here. While it's good to make new people aware of the long-existing multiple and concurrent nonlethal actions and programs needed to help cats and birds, the negatives of this effort above are the use of some "scientific research" as fact and "euthanization" or killing.

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previous related Feral Cat Blog! posts: using the search function at top left menu bar of blog with keywords such as blancher, Cats in Canada, Cats and Birds in Canada, Canada bird conservation strategies, Environment Canada, Craig Machtans, Partners in Flight or PIF, avian mortality, bird deaths, anthropogenic, human dimensions, Tom Will, Nico Dauphine, Peter Marra, Scott Loss, American Bird Conservancy or ABC, The Wildlife Society or TWS, US Fish and Wildlife or FWS, Tri Shared Vision,, NAOC, NABCI, AFWA or, opposition or opponents, and many more!

Friday, November 21, 2014

City of Bowie cat room and official TNR

Great news - congratulations to all!

Bowie puts focus on felines Emilie Shaughnessy
November 21, 2014

[excerpts, always read entire]

Bowie officials showed their commitment to both two-legged and four-legged residents by supporting two initiatives aimed at caring for stray and pet cats.

On Nov. 17, Bowie started construction of a “cat room” at City Hall for lost domesticated cats and also formally approved a city-wide “trap-neuter-release,” or TNR, program designed to manage the feral cat population.
Tara Kelley-Baker, president of CLAW [Bowie Citizens for Local Animal Welfare], and CLAW vice president Michael Semeniuk presented the city with a $20,000 check on Nov. 17 to help fund the approximate $114,000 expansion and will reimburse the city $84,000 when the project is complete, Kelley-Baker said.
Kelley-Baker said the temporary shelter will prevent pet owners and animal control staff from traveling to the Prince George’s County animal shelter in Upper Marlboro as often for lost pets.
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previous related Feral Cat Blog! post: new Bowie Maryland cat Trap Neuter Return group - October 22, 2014

and use search box at left of top blue menu bar with keywords such as Maryland, Prince George's County, and so on!

Minnesota DNR carnivore population surveys

Counting critters with the Minnesota DNR (Department of Natural Resources)
Article by: DOUG SMITH , Star Tribune
November 20, 2014 - 3:12 PM
Tracks in dirt and snow help the DNR assess Minnesota’s carnivore populations — ranging from coyotes and fox to skunks and feral cats.

[excerpts, always read entire]
Erb, a wildlife research scientist for the Department of Natural Resources, coordinates two annual surveys of carnivores used to monitor their populations. The surveys include admired species like wolves and bobcats, and other not-so-prized wildlife, including skunks, raccoons, feral cats and even roaming dogs.

Neither survey attempts to estimate actual critter populations. Instead the surveys provide a population index that shows trends over time.

• The population of cats — likely including feral and semi-domesticated — has been at above-average levels for years in farm country, but fell last year. Cats commonly show up in the scent survey, more often than dogs. Comparing species population indexes to each other is difficult, Erb said, because cats, for example, may be less wary of approaching a scent disk than, say, a coyote. “That said, it appears there is no shortage of cats out there,’’ he said.
for those yet unaware of what state fish and wildlife (or game or natural resource) agencies are about:
“Coyotes are unprotected, you can kill them year ‘round,’’ Erb said. “But wolves and bobcats are species we annually make decisions about what harvest should be,’’ he said. The surveys give the DNR data to help decide safe harvest levels.
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previous related Feral Cat Blog! posts -- enter related keywords in search box at left of top blue menu bar!

Cat Tracker > Fairfield Cty CT or Westchester Cty NY

Cat owners, do not participate in projects unless you fully understand how this information is being used by opponents to freeroam or outdoor cats and Trap Neuter Return. Learn about and realize the natural behaviors and needs of animals such as cats and issues related to cats, freeroaming, outdoor, feral cats. Keep pet cats indoors, contained or supervised as possible (with appropriate attention and enrichment please!) but not because of misinformation from some wildlife, conservation or bird individuals or groups.

Bedford - Katonah Cat Owners: Do You Let Your Feline Roam?
The Bruce Museum needs cat owners to volunteer for a cat-tracking research project to find out exactly where your cat travels when outdoors.
By Alfred Branch (Patch Staff)Updated November 19, 2014

Have you ever wondered where your cat goes when it is outside? The Bruce Museum in Greenwich is seeking owners of outdoor cats to help launch its first citizen science initiative, called Cat Tracker.
This project seeks to investigate the movement of domestic cats across the landscape.
Tim Walsh, the new Citizen Science Coordinator at the Bruce Museum, has been testing the tracking units and is excited to sign up volunteer “citizen scientists” who want to discover the secret life of their feline friend. Participants will be loaned a harness and GPS unit for their cat at no charge for one week. Walsh is seeking cat owners in the Fairfield County or Westchester County area who normally allow their cats to roam outside to volunteer for the project.
“Does your cat stay in the backyard or does it wander out into your neighborhood, or even farther afield?” Walsh wants to know. “We will compare your local cat’s range data with data from cats in coyote-free Long Island to see if they roam differently where a top predator lurks nearby.”
Incorporating Movebank technology, a free and openly accessible online database of animal movement data, the Bruce Museum will be working in cooperation with scientists and researchers from the group Your Wild Life and the North Carolina Museum of Natural History as well as the volunteer citizen scientists who would like to participate in the Cat Tracker project.

Monroe Cat Owners -- Do You Let Your Feline Roam?
The Bruce Museum needs cat owners to volunteer for a cat-tracking research project to find out exactly where your cat travels when outdoors.
By Vincent Salzo (Patch Staff)Updated November 19, 2014
Bethel Cat Owners -- Do You Let Your Feline Roam?
The Bruce Museum needs cat owners to volunteer for a cat-tracking research project to find out exactly where your cat travels when outdoors.
By Barbara Heins (Patch Staff)Updated November 19, 2014

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Bruce Museum: Have A Cat? Want to Be A Scientist? Here’s Your Chance.

Cat tracker project NCSU Kays et al
see many more previous related Feral Cat Blog! posts by using the search box at left of top blue menu bar with keywords such as kitty cam, cat predation, Kerrie Anne Loyd, camera trap, remote camera, camera trap, community cat management, opposition, and many more!

TNR Progress for Virginia Feral Cats Stonewalled

Appreciation to Rob Blizard, executive director of Norfolk SPCA for his article, as well as the Virginia Federation of Humane Societies and all who are working on behalf of cats in Virginia.

Progress for Virginia’s feral cats stonewalled
Times Dispatch Guest Columnist Rob Blizard
November 20, 2014 10:30 pm

[excerpts, always read entire]

While debating potential new legislation to bring trap-neuter-return (TNR) to more Virginia communities, just three individuals in October stonewalled the prevention of an enormous number of unwanted births of kittens in our state. And it is unconscionable that the state government has given those three so much power to block change in a commonwealth of more than 8 million people.

Virginia TNR advocates want to see laws changed so that those engaged in TNR are not liable under the legal status of a pet owner. Because this issue is so critical, the CACL group spent the better part of two years discussing TNR and related topics. In much of 2013 and 2014, folks have been traipsing to Richmond for discussions with a deep, bitter fault line dividing the two sides.
Nevertheless, the group’s coordinator, veterinarian Dan Kovich of VDACS’ Office of Animal Care and Health Policy, this fall developed a draft of compromise legislation that could be sent to the General Assembly as a composite bill.

Unfortunately, Kovich’s quest for consensus became a requirement for unanimous approval of the compromise legislation by the unelected CACL group members, virtually ensuring its failure of moving forward. On Oct. 30, representatives from the Virginia Animal Control Association (VACA) and the Virginia Alliance for Animal Shelters (VAAS) both said no to the draft.

Why would unanimity be required? The legislature doesn’t require unanimity when it votes. VDACS should not have placed such a high bar on advancing legislation that could prevent a multitude of unwanted births in our communities.

Furthermore, why would VACA and VAAS oppose TNR? According to its website, even the National Animal Control Association(*) “recognizes that in some circumstances, alternative management programs, including TNR — programs may be effective….” But I learned that VACA has no TNR policy. In emails we exchanged, the VAAS chair would not say if VAAS had a policy on TNR, stating the matter was so complex that a phone call would be necessary to explain their position. Nor does VAAS list its member shelters on its website. So it is unclear to me if the VACA and VAAS votes actually reflected the position of a large number of animal welfare professionals.
(* Feral Cat Blog! note 2008 NACA Policy Community Cat Management)

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from AnimalResources files:

Vermont Animal Control Association Newsletter Spring 2012 - opposition to TNR according to Kathy Vaca, Legislative Liaison.

The most controversial bill of the session was SB 359 - Trap, Neuter, and Return programs; permits operation of formal program relating to feral cats, patroned by Senator Creigh Deeds. VACA was contacted by Suzanne Kolgut of Charlottesville SPCA, who requested the bill of Senator Deeds, prior to its introduction. We were shocked and disturbed that this bill was not at all about managed colonies, but rather the legal right to abandon cats with no further duty to provide any type of care. VACA made our position clear. Exemption from the definition of or duties of owner was non negotiable. How could we call ourselves either humane or professional if we agreed to this? If we turned a blind eye to stripping away the provisions of adequate care for one group of companion animals, what group was next? Dogs, as proposed by HB 610? How could we justify abandoning our mission of humane care for all animals in such a manner? We suggested proponents look at ordinances that provide real management of and responsibility for feral cat colonies, but this point became an impasse. Proponents insisted they wanted people to be able to release these cats without any further responsibility for food, water or emergency medical care. Proponents cited HSUS, NACA and Alley Cat Allies as supporters of this bill. However, a simple visit to the website of any of these organizations clearly reveals each supports MANAGED feral cat colonies, not abandonment.
As we continued to look at SB 359, even more concerns arose. In both 2009 and 2010 Virginia was 2nd in the nation for rabies in domestic animals. In 2009 Virginia was 3rd in the nation for rabies in cats; 2nd in the nation in 2010. The bill stated those trapping cats could sterilize, vaccinate against rabies OR ear tip these animals, making sterilization and vaccination both options rather than requirements. The bill provided no protection for property owners, who may not want feral cats on their property, and no recourse for recovery of damages or costs, because the cats would belong to no one.
The bill successfully passed the Senate despite our efforts and moved to the House. A substitute was introduced which was in many ways worse. This version stated a shelter, humane society OR locality had authority to conduct trapping, sterilization and release of feral cats. This version did not require that the shelter or humane society be Virginia based. Even more shocking was language granting equal authority to a private non-profit group and local government. One could only imagine the conflict created if a local government did not want feral cat colonies. The fact that there exists an ongoing case in Henrico County over this very issue is a perfect illustration.
The bill continued to be hotly debated right to the end. Proponents claimed this was a simple little local option issue. They claimed that because VACA and other opponents insisted on care for the cats and management of the colonies, we preferred euthanasia. At the House Agriculture sub-committee meeting where the bill was heard, committee members raised many concerns including diseases such as rabies, salmonella and toxoplasmosis. The VVMA raised concerns about the effect of the bill on veterinary practices. Ed Clark of the Wildlife Center of Virginia spoke about the severe wildlife and song bird predation by feral cats. Delegate Bobby Orrock voiced his opinion that the substitute was not germane, because it was now a sterilization bill, rather than a TNR bill. In the end, by a vote of 5-2,

THIS BILL WAS TABLED BY THE AGRICULTURE SUB-COMMITTEE. It is expected that a work group will be formed to come up with recommendations dealing with feral cats in Virginia.
Kathy Strouse, Legislative Liaison
Virginia Alliance for Animal Shelters info according to Sharon Adams (don't know which year)

[excerpts, always read entire]

The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) is reviewing the current shelter regulations and those of you who actually run and administer shelters need to weigh in.....others are.

Also, the Comprehensive Animal Care Laws work group met on October 1st and once again is reviewing proposals related to roaming at large cats in Virginia. I am going to forward the proposal to all of you so that you will be fully informed. It is quite long and a little complicated, at least it was for me, but Paulette Dean and I, (who serve on the work group) will be happy to talk with you about it.
Sharon Quillen Adams

We had such a wonderful experience at the six regional workshops we held in April-almost 200 registrants plus a wildlife biologist and Conservation Police Officer at each of the meetings. Dr. Dan Kovich was a presenter at all of the workshops and he was particularly helpful in talking with attendees about specific issues in their region. He also presented a Cat Questionnaire to the participants and we will offer our summary of the responses in a later update.
From the Virginia Chapter of The Wildlife Society Summer 2012 newsletter:

Conservation Review Committee
During June, the Conservation Review Committee drafted two letters regarding important con-servation issues in the Com-monwealth. First, the Chapter submitted a letter to the Nor-folk City Council opposing proposals to operate trap, neu-ter, release (TNR) programs for feral cats. Although state legislation which would have facilitated TNR programs was killed this past session, we are concerned about the im-pact that an individual locality’s decision can have on the spread of TNR programs across the state. Many studies have documented the destructive impacts of free-ranging cats on native wildlife; thus, at the national and state levels, TWS opposes any efforts that promote feral cats and the estab-lishment and maintenance of feral cat colonies in Virginia.

Virginia Federation of Humane Societies > Legislation
[excerpts, always read entire]

Current Legislation:

NEXT MEETING will be held on 10/30/14 at The Richmond SPCA

Comprehensive Animal Care Laws (CACL) meeting update.

We made a great deal of progress, and felt much more comfortable with Dr. Kovich's composite document once he had the opportunity to describe his thought process and the areas of compromise. The compromise — in the broadest sense — boils down to requiring the step of passing a local ordinance to allow TNR and community cat management in localities. Although this is by no means ideal, we feel it is likely worth it to compromise on this issue. One thing we gained on our side is that there will not be a comprehensive cat management plan requiring localities to deal with all free roaming cats — instead, localities would need to capture and dispose of only those cats who are suffering or who are under 3 months of age. If we can come to a compromise, we really need to consider it so that we can all move forward with caring for cats in our communities.

I have attached a copy of Dr. Kovich's composite document, and our detailed notes regarding yesterday's meeting. These attachments should appear at the bottom of this email. At the end of the meeting notes, there are a series of questions that we very much want to get your input on.

Heidi Meinzer
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previous related Feral Cat Blog! posts:

Virginia legislation SB 359 > Trap Neuter and Return programs - January 18, 2012

Virginia legislation SB359 Trap Neuter Return update - February 03, 2012

use search box at left of top blue menu bar with keywords Virginia, legal, laws, legislation, statute, ordinance, municipal code, policy, position statement, Trap Neuter Return, opposition, and many more!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Urban Wildlife Communication and Negotiation > cats

from the book / e-book, Urban Wildlife McCleery, Robert A., Moorman, Christopher, Peterson, M. Nils (Eds.)
2014, pp 217-238
Date: 12 Nov 2014

Chapter 11:
Urban Wildlife Communication and Negotiation
• Susan K. Jacobson,
• Dara M. Wald,
• Nia Haynes,
• Ryo Sakurai


Effective communication shapes how urban audiences affect and are affected by wildlife, ranging from policy making and management to citizen science and conflict resolution. This chapter reviews the elements of communication: Sources, Encoding, Messages and Media, Decoding, Receivers, and Feedback. We describe the process for identifying communication objectives, targeting audiences, using mass media and social dialogues, and evaluating results. We present strategies for wildlife conflict negotiation among diverse urban audiences as an example of communications that impact the fate of our urban ecosystems.

Other chapters are of interest in the book such as Chapter 17 Wildlife Damage Management in the Urban Landscape - David Drake. Additional familiar names for me include McCleery, M. Nils Peterson, Rodewald, Gehrt, Seth Riley, Hostetler, Paige Warren (use Feral Cat Blog! search box)

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previous related Feral Cat Blog! posts:

Feral Cat Blog! posts with keyword Dara Wald and use search box at left of top blue menu bar with keywords such as Susan Jacobson, stakeholder preference, stakeholder conflict, human dimensions, and many more!

Duquesne Biology Professor Morrow volunteers skills and "Cattitude"

In 2006, 2011, and 2013 Feral Cats in the News ~ the Feral Cat Blog! shared info related to this project (see links at bottom of post):

Duquesne Biology Professor Volunteers Her Skills and “Cattitude,” One Feral Colony at a Time
Source Newsroom: Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR)

[excerpts, always read entire]

Newswise — In her spare time, Dr. Becky Morrow will do more than 50 surgeries a day.
Assistant professor of biological sciences at Duquesne University, Morrow is rare among academicians: a licensed veterinarian and a scholar who gets her hands dirty helping communities from Clarion to the West Virginia border control feral cat colonies.
She makes clear that feral cat colonies exist because food supplies and shelter are available; if these cats were exterminated, as others advocate, different cats likely would move into the same territory—or animal pest populations might soar. If residents capture the cats, Morrow is willing neuter and release them, leaving behind a stable and healthier colony.
“You do a whole group at once. That’s how you get ahead of the reproduction cycle,” explained Morrow, who established the nonprofit Frankie’s Friends Cat Rescue in New Kensington in memory of her rescued silver tabby.
Morrow finds recruits across campus, engaging students to organize clinics, draw blood and assist with surgeries. Duquesne students who aspire to veterinary practice gain an edge by working with Morrow, observed Dr. Alan W. Seadler, associate provost for research and technology.
“Because Duquesne has no veterinary school, no agriculture school and no medical school, this is a major achievement.” Seadler said.

Yet the benefits of Morrow’s work are not limited to pre-medical and post-baccalaureate students. Dr. Lisa Ludvico’s forensic science students gain skills obtaining DNA through tissue samples remaining from Morrow’s efforts. An international practice is to clip a cat’s left ear tip so it’s immediately visible that it has been neutered. Ludvico, a cat lover serving on the nonprofit’s board, asked Morrow about obtaining this tissue, which typically is discarded, for a more rich—and rare—DNA extraction opportunity than saliva and blood samples.
“Some students were put off at first,” Ludvico said. “Then they started realizing the marker systems used to identify individuals in animal populations is the same as what is used in humans, even though they are species-specific.”
Ludvico and her students are determining the inter-relatedness of cat colonies, to answer if cats band together in families or if groupings are happenstance.
Altogether, these efforts mean students win, communities win—and the cats themselves win. “Students can see the community problem,” Morrow said. “Working with underserved populations is tied to our academic work.”

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previous related Feral Cat Blog! posts:

Feral cats research communicable disease (New Service-Learning Program Focuses on Feral Felines) - October 2006

shared with leading cat / feral cat advocates nationwide September 27, 2011
feral research & studies > Duquesne University, PA - Trun, Ludvico. Morrow; Homeless Cat Management Team

Priority 4 Paws Mobile Spay Neuter - December 2013

Spay Neuter Resources in Indiana

or use the search box at left of top blue menu bar with keywords such as: Trun, Morrow, Ludvico, service learning, Duquesne, and so on!

Yonkers cats update: arrest

I read yesterday there had been an arrest but those articles did not provide the additional detail below. Similar stories of cat (and animal) cruelty have been in the news regularly in the fourteen years I've been tracking, and before. Especially for cats, lack of awareness, alertness, knowledge, action, facilities, resources and programs by front line stakeholders have allowed such situations to continue in communities, even when they have been alerted by citizens. The situation is slowly improving, but has been needlessly and tragically delayed.

Yonkers man charged dead cats hung tree The Journal News (Lower Hudson)
Greg Shillinglaw
November 18, 2014

[excerpts, always read entire]

YONKERS – Rene Carcamo admitted to authorities that for the past five years he had been placing dead cats in plastic bags after they died from infection and fleas in his city apartment and hanging them in a tree nearby.

The 60-year-old said he hung the cats up off Overlook Terrace so they would not be desecrated by other animals. Carcamo told investigators he did not have a list of how many cats had perished over that time, but "a great deal of the small ones" had died inside his apartment.

Those admissions, laid out in a court complaint, were part of an investigation that began in April, when Yonkers Department of Public Works employees discovered 25 dead cats hanging in plastic bags from tree branches and bodies of several other cats on the ground by Carcamo's home.

Carcamo was arrested Tuesday and charged with three misdemeanor counts of violating environmental conservation law related to his alleged disposal of a kitten and two cats, which were among those discovered in the woods.

He's also facing two counts of animal cruelty, both violations.

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previous related Feral Cat Blog! post:
Rest in peace, beloved Yonkers cats - May 2014

Related Feral Cat Blog! resources provided for years, directly to those in need and in permanent right sidebar under Cat Issues, include but are not limited to Lost Cats, Hoarding, Animal Cruelty, Indoor Cats as well as comprehensive Community Cat Management including Trap Neuter Return TNR.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Annual shelter killing report 2014 > Clifton Animals 24/7

Merritt Clifton's annual shelter killing report, for the record and whatever it means (and yes I'm aware of disagreements with Clifton including regarding pit bulls.)

Record low shelter killing raises both hopes & questions
NOVEMBER 14, 2014 BY MERRITT CLIFTON, Animals 24-7

U.S. animal shelters are now killing fewer cats and dogs than at any time in the past 60 years––nearly 300,000 fewer in the most recent fiscal year than just one year earlier, and just 8.6 per 1,000 Americans, the lowest ratio on record––but is the recent dramatic progress really saving animal lives?

As always, MC repeats comments he's made for many years.

Finally, readers familiar with current shelter jargon will note no reference to so-called “live release” or “save” rates. These are simply inversions of ”euthanasia rate,” the oldest and most misleading statistic ever devised to measure animal shelter performance. ...

... If a jurisdiction is doing an effective job of preventing the births of cats and dogs for whom there are no good homes, of keeping pets in homes, and of protecting community health and safety, the cumulative “live release” rate will decline, as ever fewer healthy, adoptable animals enter shelters, and admissions dwindle to mostly just those animals who are so ill, injured, or dangerous that euthanasia is the only humane response.
At that point, the ratio of shelter killing per 1,000 people will usually be below 2.0, a target that many jurisdictions have already reached.
For those jurisdictions, an abnormally high “live release” rate may signify mainly that they still have a long way to go in preventing surplus cat and dog births, abandonments, the growth of feral cat populations, and dog attacks.

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see my permanent resource Statewide Animal Shelter Statistics

use search box at left of top blue menu bar with keywords such as animal shelter statistics, shelter killing, no-kill or no kill, killing, nonlethal solutions, cat numbers, cat estimates, cat management, USDA wildlife killing, Save Our Strays by Bob Christiansen, and many more!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Rats Bats & Feral Cats: Georgia DOA Venessa Sims

Disasters and Diseases:
A One Medicine Approach to Current Challenges

“A One Medicine Approach to Emerging and Zoonotic Diseases”
December 10-11, 2014
Sheraton Imperial Hotel and Convention Center | Durham, North Carolina

Day 2 — Thursday, December 11, 2014

2:45–3:30 PM Rats, Bats & Feral Cats: The Georgia Plague Exercise
Venessa Sims, Georgia Department of Agriculture

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use search box at left of top blue menu bar with any relevant keywords!

Ecology and Management of Free-Ranging Cats - Gehrt

Read this on November 7 and now getting posted, for awareness and the record.
[See previous related Feral Cat Blog! posts using keyword Gehrt or use coyotes]

Ecology and Mangement of Free-Ranging Cats
Date: Thursday, November 13, 2014 - 9:00am
Location: Columbus, Ohio
Dr. Stan Gehrt to present at the Ohio Community Wildlife Cooperative Conference 2014. Visit the event's website for more details:

The Nationwide and Ohio Farm Bureau 4-H Center

Join Ohio community leaders for this all-day conference focused on the role of local government in managing human-wildlife conflicts.

We listened! This years topics include:

Free Ranging Cats
Writing a Good City Code/Ordinance
Pond Development and Nuisance Aquatic Mammals
Mute Swan Management
Deer Contraception

Cape Town's cats: reassessing predation through kitty-cams

from Open UCT (University of Cape Town, South Africa)
Faculty of Science > Dept. of Biological Sciences > P.F.I.A. Ornithology

Cape Town's cats: reassessing predation through kitty-cams
Frances Morling
[thesis for Masters degree in Conservation Biology]
Domestic cats (Felis catus) are abundant generalist predators that exploit a wide range of prey within and adjacent to the urban matrix. Cats are known to have contributed to the extinction and endangerment (mostly on islands) of a number of indigenous species, including birds, small mammals, reptiles and amphibians. Most research on this important topic has been carried out in the developed world, predominantly in Australia, New Zealand, the U.K., the U.S. and Canada with only four studies carried out in Africa. Of these, two studies in Cape Town suggest that domestic cats have a big impact on wildlife but these studies may have underestimated predation because they failed to account for the proportion of prey not returned to participants’ homes. In this study I used kitty-cams in an attempt to provide a prey correction factor for urban cats in Cape Town, South Africa. I investigated hunting of wildlife by free-ranging domestic cats in Newlands, a suburb of Cape Town, South Africa over 5 weeks in 2013. I monitored 13 cats (6 deep-urban and 7 urban-edge) by questionnaire survey, asking cat owners to record all prey items returned by their cats. A total of 43 prey items were returned, 42% of which were small mammals, 30% invertebrates, 12% reptiles, 9% amphibians and 7% birds. Combining these data with two similar survey studies carried out in Cape Town I estimated that a total of 118 cats caught an average of 0.04 prey items per cat per day. Ten of the 13 cats were also monitored for 3 weeks using kitty-cam video cameras. Participating cats wore a video camera and all activity was analysed for prey captures and behavioural activity patterns.
Includes bibliographical references.

download full text pdf:
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see many previous related Feral Cat Blog! posts using keyword kitty cam, cat predation, Kerrie Anne Loyd, camera trap, and many more!

Maddie's Fund animal shelter statistics database 2012 update

what I read 11/12/2014 on Maddies's Fund blog:
Searchable database to compare shelters nationwide now updated
Ever wonder how your community's shelter lifesaving stacks up? We've just updated our comparative database with 2012 data, with 2013 on its way early next year! Maddie's Fund® is collecting shelter data (dogs and cats only) based on the Asilomar Accords from more than 500 animal welfare organizations. We've compiled this data along with demographic information into a searchable database that is available to non-profit agencies, government programs, private citizens and the media to compare different communities' lifesaving efforts. Search categories include: Geographic Region Median income Size of human population Total intake Total adoptions Total deaths Live release rate Deaths per 1,000 human population Click here for more information and to access the Database - See more at:

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see my permanent resource Statewide animal shelter statistics

claim of Australian numbers of feral cats and native animals they kill is UNVERIFIABLE

The claim for Australia is unverifiable, of course, as were the U.S. and Canada claims!
[impact of cats on wildlife: Loss Will Marra and
9 leading causes of bird deaths in Canada > cats]

Fact check: Are feral cats killing over 20 billion native animals a year?
ABC (Australia Broadcasting Corp)
November 12 and 13 2014

ABC Fact Check takes a look at the numbers.
• The claim: Greg Hunt says up to 20 million feral cats are killing four native Australian animals a night, destroying over 20 billion animals a year.
• The verdict: The number of feral cats in Australia is impossible to calculate because of density variation, and the way the population fluctuates with prey availability and climate. The number of native Australian animals killed by feral cats each night is also difficult to calculate, due to differences in the size of prey. Mr Hunt's claim is unverifiable.
Fact Check asked Mr Hunt for the basis of his claim and his office said the figures were sourced from The Action Plan for Australian Mammals published in June 2014.
However, Fact Check contacted the authors, Professor John Woinarski from Charles Darwin University and consultant biologist Andrew Burbidge, who both say the plan provides no such statistic.
In the factcheck article above is a list of some of the familiar key names long related to feral cats in Australia and the latest such as Tim Doherty, a 2014 doctoral candidate at Edith Cowan University who presented at the Ecological Society of Australia annual conference in October 2014: [download Abstracts]
Tim Doherty, Dr Dave Algar, Dr Eddie Van Etten, Dr Neil Collier, Dr Rob Davis, Professor Chris Dickman, Dr Glenn Edwards, Dr Pip Masters, Russell Palmer, Dr Sue Robinson
and another "Just Accepted" paper
"A critical review of feral cat habitat use and key directions for future research and management"
Tim Doherty, Andrew Bengsen, Robert Davis
from the same CSIRO publication I posted about on October 31 Cat culling increased feral cat abundance and activity:

I have tracked all cat issues globally since 2001 and saved many files not posted on the blog. Same as in the US, nonfactual info has for years simply been repeated in media, science books and journals. To learn about so-called studies and research or project using terrible lethal methods, use your favorite search engine. For example, in 2014 lethal cat control or cat eradication.

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previous related Feral Cat Blog! posts keyword Australia and for the US key phrase how many cats

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

feral cat / TNR: positive news today

only a few of the positive news stories that appear regularly! [links to cat in the news 24/7 in right sidebar]

Lethbridge Alberta CANADA
Project proposed to deal with feral cat issue in city
Lethbridge Herald
"A proposed pilot project is hoping to end the growing feral cat population in Lethbridge."

Pinellas County Florida
Pinellas enables pilot TNVR program
Tampa Bay Newspapers

Lafayette Indiana (Tippecanoe County)
Lafayette Council approves new rules for feral cats, dangerous dogs
updated ordinance, Trap Neuter Return program

City votes to nip feral cat population
Journal and Courier

Maplewood Township New Jersey (Essex County)
In 4-1 vote, town passes TNR program on first read
Essex News Daily
"The ordinance bans residents from feeding feral cats unless they become licensed as “caretakers” by Furry Hearts and the township."
"There will be a public hearing on the issue at the Wednesday, Nov. 5, Township Committee meeting, before the committee votes on the ordinance on second and final reading."

Las Cruces New Mexico (Dona Ana County)
On the Positive Side: Three paths are being plowed for progress
Las Cruces Sun
"... from spay-and-neuter programs, the pet microchipping, "Field Return to Owner" efforts and the "Trap, Neuter, Return" management of community cats."

New Zealand veterinarians against feral cat plan

NZ vets against feral cat plan
Radio New Zealand News
4 November 2014
The Veterinary Association says a move in Australia to eradicate all feral cats as a way of stopping the spread of toxoplasmosis to sheep is an extreme measure not needed in in New Zealand.