Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Update March 5, 2008: Thanks to the efforts of Alley Cat Allies and your letters and calls and signatures on the petition – not to mention a rally in front of City Hall -Â the city of Cape May, New Jersey has agreed to preserve its long standing feral cat program.
Alley Cat Allies reports, "Under the plan passed by the city, any cats who live near shorebird nests are either moved 1,000 feet from the area or humanely contained. Any outdoor cats who might not yet be neutered and vaccinated by the city will be included in the long-running Trap-Neuter-Return program. Volunteer caregivers will continue to care for the cats."
It is not clear whether USFW will agree.
Original report: From Alley Cat Allies, reprinted with permission:Â
The City of Cape May, N.J. has been pressured by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to abolish its successful 12-year-old Trap-Neuter-Return program for outdoor cats, despite resistance from the city’s mayor, several city council members and many residents.Â
"If the federal government is allowed to overrule local support for Trap-Neuter-Return, most of the cats in Cape May will be caught and killed," warned Becky Robinson, president of Alley Cat Allies, the national advocates for feral and stray cats.
Alley Cat Allies is urging supporters nationwide to voice their opposition by signing its online petition at http://www.alleycat.org/.
With the help and support of Alley Cat Allies, Cape May was one of the first local governments to implement Trap-Neuter-Return as official policy for outdoor cats – a decision which has proven enormously successful. Cape May’s stray and feral cat population has dropped 80 percent since the program’s inception in the mid-1990s, from around 450 cats to under 100 today. Â The population continues to decline.Â Cape May is an important example of the humane management of outdoor cats through low-cost spay/neuter, according to Alley Cat Allies and other local groups.
"The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is threatening to pull the plug on the beach-sand replenishment program for 2008 if the city will not agree to end its groundbreaking and progressive Trap-Neuter-Return program," said Robinson,Â "Such a move would be devastating for the Cape May community, which relies on its beaches to draw tourists each year."Â
Local residents and city officials say they are proud of their Trap-Neuter-Return program.Â If forced to end it, most of the outdoor cats of Cape May will be trapped and killed.Â Nationwide, over 70 percent of cats entering shelters are killed; for feral cats, this statistic rises to virtually 100 percent.
Most Americans oppose catch-and-kill, according to a national survey recently commissioned by Alley Cat Allies and conducted by Harris Interactive. The survey revealed that 81 percent of Americans believe that leaving a stray cat outside to live out his life is more humane than having the cat caught and killed.
Visit http://www.alleycat.org/ to sign the online petition to save the cats of Cape May.
Also,Â the USFW Beach Management PlanÂ calls for Cape May to promote a Cat Indoors program, register or license and microchip all cats, and basically keepÂ a census ofÂ cats. The problem is that for feral cats, USFW call for the City toÂ relocate existing feral cat colonies from several areas and basicallyÂ eliminate its TNR program. The City will be required toÂ assist in aÂ program to catch and kill cats and give USFW and other authorities free reign to eliminate cats as they see fit. Â Â