Is new feral cat program bad for birds?

feral cats in El Paso

In this “Just Ask John," a follow-up to the story I reported about the city of El Paso's trap-neuter-return program for feral cats and the controversy that surrounds it.

The city’s Animal Services Department is working to provide a more humane way of dealing with the problem of feral cats.

Under the program, volunteers catch the cats. The city then vaccinates and spays or neuters the cats. Once the animals heal, the city releases them back into their old neighborhoods.

Animal Services spokesman Ramon Herrera told me that research has shown that over time this practice reduces the feral cat population where it's applied without killing the animals.

The U.S. Humane Society and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals both endorse trap-neuter-return programs.

However, North American wildlife groups like the American Bird Conservancy and the Wildlife Society oppose trap-neuter-return. They dispute its effectiveness and claim stray cats are responsible for much of the decline in U.S. bird populations in recent years, estimating the cats may kill more than 3 billion birds annually.

Many neighborhood residents also don't like it when feral cats return because of the nuisance they continue to create.

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