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Wednesday, Nov 26, 2014
Commentary

‘Recycling’ of cats in Hillsborough County not good public policy

Special to The Tampa Tribune
Published:

Regarding “County tangles with wild cats” (Our Views, April 24): Your lead editorial was spot on. Hillsborough County has abdicated its responsibility to control cats for years, leading to an estimated 200,000 domestic cats in breeding colonies that spread disease, prey on our endangered birds and other native and protected wildlife, and become nuisances on the property of others.

This latest attempt to continue its failed solution by the recycling of cats (trap, neuter and release) follows a complete abdication of its responsibilities by eliminating all trapping of cats. Animal Services no longer responds to trap feral cats and has no plans to capture feral cats in its recent proposal. Citizens are supposed to trap nuisance cats and bring them to the county facility. No wonder we have 200,000 wild cats!

The Tribune was assured by Animal Services Director Ian Hallett and Deputy County Administrator Sharon Subadan that “cat colonies” would not be established. By the way, they already are well established. A summary of the plan promoted at the April 24 meeting of the task force by Hallett clearly refers to cats being returned or relocated to colonies. Indeed, where do they think 200,000 cats are presently living?

A dot map displayed by the task force showing distribution of feral cats in Hillsborough County showed cats in almost every area, especially the highly urban areas, spreading rabies and toxoplasmosis, which can cause birth defects when contracted by pregnant women. Relatively untouched areas are only temporary since the few cats entering the county facility may be relocated from schools, restaurants and playgrounds to areas with smaller colonies under the proposal.

The well-meaning animal lovers who feed feral cats are obviously troubled by this situation, as well. There aren’t enough volunteers to properly care for an ever-growing population of wild cats. Volunteers are trespassing on or near golf courses, schools, restaurants and private developments to help perpetuate disease and more destruction of wildlife, especially our birds.

The only reasonable solution is a strong capture and adoption program, not a proposed recycling program addressing a mere 2,000 cats a year that cannot possibly address such a widespread problem. It would be a Hillsborough County placebo.

The Tampa Audubon Society and the Hillsborough County Veterinary Society, among others, agree that recycling of cats is not good public policy.


Gary and Janice Sortor are board members of the Tampa Audubon Society.

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