Editorials

Catching wild cats may be kind, but ultimately how humane is it?

Feeding feral cats, controlling wild population

Samantha Stephens traps wild cats in St. Clair County, IL, near St. Louis, MO, to have them spayed or neutered and control the feral population. She then feeds them. County leaders are considering a proposed ordinance that would allow Stephens and
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Samantha Stephens traps wild cats in St. Clair County, IL, near St. Louis, MO, to have them spayed or neutered and control the feral population. She then feeds them. County leaders are considering a proposed ordinance that would allow Stephens and

Some very kind people with very big hearts are working very hard to help the feral cat population in St. Clair County.

And now the kinder, gentler St. Clair County Animal Control is looking at making it legal for those kind hearts to trap, sterilize, release and feed those feral cats.

But kind may not be smart. Kind may be cruel to many other species.

Lost pet cats quickly adapt to again being efficient predators and quickly breed. An estimated 70 million feral cats in the U.S. are believed to kill a few hundred million birds and more than a billion small mammals such as squirrels and rabbits each year.

Besides angering the Audubon Society members, such a massive prey species kill by feral cats must impact the wild predators up the food chain. They also represent an uncontrolled disease threat to pets and people.

Yes, people should spay and neuter their pets. Yes, we should find homes for strays when we can.

But volunteers cannot catch and sterilize all the feral cats, nor can they feed them all to stop the predation, nor can they guarantee they all get their shots. Even if they could, is that the best use of resources?

Euthanization is not the end we want for fuzzy kitties, but has been a necessity for many decades and realistically cannot be replaced by a trap and release program. Animal control’s evolution should be based on research, not on emotion.

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