‘Trap-Neuter-Return’ is not a viable solution


While I applaud and support the efforts of our local Spay Neuter Project, I, too, was dismayed to see that they have taken the very negative and misguided step of implementing a Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) program to “manage” unwanted cats here in Park County, with the support of Stafford Animal Shelter.

As many other communities around the country have already found, TNR is not a viable solution to the problem of unwanted cats. Sure, it might feel like a success to Stafford when the cat cages at the shelter are less crowded, but releasing the cats back into our community can be likened to an ostrich sticking its head in the sand. The problem still exists and the negative impacts on our community (and for the poor cats themselves) escalate. For those who are unfamiliar with TNR, there is much information available and we should take a lesson from the experiences of other places and not make the same mistakes — we will regret it! These programs are simply not effective and inflict a myriad of ills, including human health issues (rabies, hookworm, toxoplasmosis), on the places where cats are allowed to roam free.

The following organizations have all condemned TNR as an ineffective and inhumane policy: the American Veterinary Medical Association, The Wildlife Society, Association of Avian Veterinarians, the Alliance of Veterinarians for the Environment, and the American Bird Conservancy. In fact, even People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has “serious concerns” that TNR is inhumane for cats and the wildlife they prey on. PETA supports compassionate euthanasia for unadoptable cats.

Contrary to the information being put out by Stafford, cats are not wildlife and should not be managed as such. They are non-native, domestic animals that must be managed to avoid overpopulation, human health risks, and decimation of native wildlife populations. Court orders have stopped TNR programs in cities like Los Angeles where proper environmental review was not done. As has been made clear in these court orders, any Park County TNR program should go through the Montana Environmental Policy Act (MEPA) review process before being approved.

I have always been impressed with the high-quality work done by our Stafford Animal Shelter and supported them financially. I can no longer do this in good conscience and am so disappointed to see them taking this poor direction in caring for our local cats. While I sympathize wholeheartedly with the challenges of caring for so very many unwanted cats, I know that TNR is not the solution to this tragic problem. I hope others who feel the same will let them know too.

Beth Madden