Maui Humane Society OPPOSES bill 6.04.041 banning the feeding of all feral animals. Here's why.
Feeding bans lead to increased bird predation.
Published research shows that cats who subsist by hunting alone will kill far more birds than cats whose diets are subsidized by humans. (Biological Conservation, 214 (2017) 76-87, Woinarski et al., How Many Cats are Killed in Australia?)
- Feral cats in natural (wild) environments who subsist entirely by predation: ~129 birds/yr killed
- Feral cats in highly modified environments (human-based food sources are available) ~61.5 birds/yr killed
- Domestic Pet cats: ~15.6 birds/yr killed
Feeding Bans are Counterproductive to Addressing Concerns about Toxoplasmosis.
Researchers studying Toxoplasmosis in sea otters off the coast of California found a significantly lower prevalence of the disease in managed feral cats (17%) than wild cats or unmanaged feral cats subsisting on wild prey (73–81%). This makes intuitive sense, of course, since cats are infected with Toxoplasmosis through their prey. (EcoHealth 10, 277–289, 2013 2013 International Association for Ecology and Health, VanWormer et al, Toxoplasma gondii, Source to Sea: Higher Contribution of Domestic Felids to Terrestrial Parasite Loading Despite Lower Infection Prevalence)
TNR is the most effective, humane path to less cats.
Trap-neuter-return (TNR) is a management technique in which community cats are humanely trapped, evaluated, spayed or neutered by a licensed veterinarian, ear-tipped to show they’ve been sterilized, dewormed, optionally vaccinated and then returned to their original habitat. Maui Humane Society offers this as a free service made possible by grants. Targeted TNR (i.e., maximizing the number of cats sterilized at the colony or neighborhood level) offers several benefits over less humane approaches that have been used for decades without success. These benefits include:
- Reduced shelter intake of cats and kittens
- Reduced shelter deaths of cats and kittens
- Stabilized and (over time) reduced community cat population
- Reduced number of nuisance complaints
Published Case Studies:
- Alley Cat Allies – Trap-Neuter-Return Research Compendium
- Best Friends Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) Success Stories
Cat sanctuaries can be a solution for smaller communities with less cats – but for Maui, it would be extremely costly and impractical.
Lana'i Cat Sanctuary states that it costs $1,000 per cat per year to maintain their facility – not including starting costs to purchase land, set up enclosures, and provide ongoing veterinary care.
40,000 cats on Maui x $1000/cat/year x average life 8 years = $320,000,000
It costs an average of $50 to spay or neuter a cat and stop it from multiplying. Aggressive, strategic TNR is vastly more cost-effective and impactful when it comes to reducing cat populations.
Eradication/Relocation Doesn't Work.
Each time cats are removed, the population will rebound through a well-documented phenomenon known as the “vacuum effect,” drawing the community into a costly, endless cycle of trapping and killing.
No matter how many animals are removed, if the resources remain, the population will eventually recover. Any cats remaining after a catch and kill effort will produce kittens and at a higher survival rate, filling the habitat to capacity. As this study found, “populations greatly reduced by culling are likely to rebound quickly.” Over time, the number of cats in an area where a feral cat colony has been killed or relocated will eventually recover and return to its original size.
- A Closer Look at Community Cats (ASPCA)
- The Vacuum Effect: Why Catch and Kill Doesn't Work (Alley Cat Allies)