Nfld. & Labrador

Gander says no to feral cat neutering program

The Town of Gander said it will not be supporting a feral cat trap, neuter, release pilot project, but will consider amending animal control bylaws to help curb the growing feral cat population.

Town says trap, neuter, release program isn't the best approach

Emma Manning carries a feral cat inside a shed where it will be kept warm for a few days before being released back into the wild. (Garrett Barry/CBC)

The Town of Gander will not be supporting a new pilot project that has a controversial approach to tackling its growing feral cat population.

The Gander Feral Cat/Kitten Rescue group had requested the town's support for a trap, neuter, release, or TNR, program.

The program would involve trapping feral cats and getting them neutered or spayed and vaccinated before releasing them back to the environment they came from.

Emma Manning, a volunteer with the group, said once the cats are released, a volunteer caretaker would then feed and keep an eye on them.

Manning says the trap, neuter, release program is the most effective and humane method of dealing with Gander's 'exploding' feral cat population. (Garrett Barry/CBC)

"What we were asking [for is] an exemption to the no-roaming bylaw for feral cats … and a letter allowing us to trap."

Manning says the TNR program is the most effective and humane method of dealing with Gander's "exploding" feral cat population.

"I know right now what is being emphasized is the trap and euthanize approach," she said. "When that occurs, more cats show up in these areas to fill the void and use resources."

If the issue is not tackled now the town is going to be overrun with feral cats.- Emma Manning

Manning thinks the Town of Gander has decided not to support the program because of a lack of awareness and understanding.

"I understand the town's hesitations, but if the issue is not tackled now the town is going to be overrun with feral cats," she said.

Gander Mayor Percy Farwell says a big factor in the town's decision not to support the TNR program was the opinion of the Gander SPCA, which does not like the idea of releasing cats back into a hostile environment. (Garrett Barry/CBC)

Mayor Percy Farwell said the town carefully considered the TNR program and decided it wasn't a great idea. 

"When we were presented with the request to amend the animal control bylaws to facilitate a TNR program here, it was something that required a fair bit of homework.… We weren't really familiar with the TNR process at all," he said. 

The town came to its decision after consulting with veterinarians, animal rights groups and the SPCA, said the mayor.

Prevention is the initial step that needs to be taken.- Percy Farwell

"The animals are being released back into a life that is not necessarily ideal," said Farwell.

"I understand that neutering feral animals would certainly contribute to stopping that explosion of population, but certainly wouldn't eliminate it and certainly wouldn't guarantee them when they're placed back in the wild — whether they're being cared for or not — that they would live healthy, productive lives."

Ultimately, Farwell said, the Town of Gander would not have a feral cat problem if it didn't have irresponsible pet owners to begin with.

"We're certainly going back now and having a more detailed look at our animal control bylaws, because prevention is the initial step that needs to be taken," he said. 

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from CBC Newfoundland Morning

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