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JAS participates in Plan 2040

Jayhawk Audubon Society has reviewed the draft of Plan 2040: A Comprehensive Plan for Unincorporated Douglas County and the City of Lawrence. The board submitted numerous comments to the Planning Commission aimed at strengthening language to preserve natural systems. We urge all JAS members to participate in the process to determine the future of our community. Our letter on Plan 2040 is attached and can be downloaded by clicking on the PDF icon below.

 

 

JAS opposes Trap-Neuter-Release in Lawrence

The Lawrence City Commission voted unanimously on Feb. 19 to move forward with a Trap-Neuter-Release Program for feral cats. You can read the Lawrence Journal World Story here.

Jayhawk Audubon submitted the following position statement to the Lawrence City Commission before the meeting.

Jayhawk Audubon Society Position Statement on Free-Roaming Feral, Stray, and Owned Domestic Cats
 
Jayhawk Audubon Society is the chapter of the National Audubon Society serving Lawrence, Douglas County, and surrounding communities in eastern Kansas.
Our mission is to provide opportunities for greater understanding and appreciation of birds and other wildlife, to encourage sustainable practices, and to advocate for actions and policies which result in protection and preservation of intact ecological ecosystems.
 
Summary of Position
• Because free-roaming domestic cats prey on birds and other wildlife, Jayhawk Audubon Society opposes programs and practices that allow cats to roam freely, whether they are feral, stray, or owned pets.
• Trap/Neuter/Vaccinate/Release (TNVR) programs targeted at feral cats in the city are unlawful according to the Lawrence city code. Jayhawk Audubon Society opposes changing that code to allow Trap/Neuter/Vaccinate/Release programs in the city.
 
Overview of the Problem
Free-roaming cats include feral cats, stray cats, and owned cats--pets. Feral cats are domestic cats that are wild--they live without human contact and human habitation. Stray cats are domestic cats that have been abandoned by humans and are living on their own. Other free-roaming cats include cats that are owned--pets--but allowed by humans outside of contained yards and off leashes and harnesses.
 
Free-roaming domestic cats, whether they are feral, stray, or owned, prey on small animals, including native mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and birds.[1] It is estimated that in the United States, outdoor cats (feral, stray, and owned) kill 1.3 to 4 billion birds per year and 6.3 to 22.3 billion mammals per year.[2] 40% of the world’s bird species are in decline, and of those species, 39% of them are threatened by invasive animals, including domestic cats.[3] In addition feral and stray cats are reservoirs of disease for both pet cats and wildlife as well as humans. Diseases with high prevalence include feline leukemia virus, feline immunodeficiency virus, feline infectious anemia (hemobartonellosis) and significantly the domestic cat is the definitive host for the protozoan parasite Toxoplasma gondii which can be transmitted to humans and is a significant concern for susceptible pregnant women in regard to in utero transmission of the infection to the fetus with possible resulting birth defects.
Trap/Neuter/Vaccinate/Release (TNVR) programs attempt to reduce the population size of free-roaming feral cats by trapping, neutering, and releasing them to their original environments. While these programs are considered humane in approach, models have estimated that more than 70 percent of a population of feral cats must be spayed or neutered before the population will decline. Nor do they address the predation done to birds and other animals.
 
Recommendations
1. We urge all cat owners to keep all cats indoors, in a safe enclosed outdoor structure, or on harness or leash if accompanied by a human.
2. We support programs to neuter or spay cats before reproductive age and to vaccinate and register cats.
3. We oppose “managed” outdoor cat colonies and TNVR programs.
4. We oppose the release of unwanted pet cats and feral cats into the wild.
 
Notes
[1] Hildreth et al. (2010).
[2] Loss et al. (2013).
[3] BirdLife International (2018).
 
References
Audubon Society of Greater Denver. 2018. “Audubon Society of Greater Denver Policy on Free-Roaming Domestic and Feral Cats.” Littleton, Colorado: Audubon Society of Greater Denver. http://www.denveraudubon.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/ASGD-Policy-on-Free-Roaming-Cats-1.pdf.
BirdLife International. 2018. “State of the World’s Birds: Taking the Pulse of the Planet.” Cambridge: BirdLife International.
Black Swamp Bird Observatory. 2018. “Black Swamp Bird Observatory Position Statement on Feral and Free-Ranging Cats.” Oak Harbor, Ohio: Black Swamp Bird Observatory. http://www.bsbo.org/position-statement-on-feral-and-free-ranging-cats.html.
Hildreth, Aaron M., Stephen M. Vantassel, and Scott E. Hygnstrom. 2010. “Feral Cats and Their Management.” Lincoln: University of Nebraska Extension. http://extensionpublications.unl.edu/assets/pdf/ec1781.pdf.
Loss, Scott R., Tom Will, and Peter P. Marra. 2013. “The Impact of Free-Ranging Domestic Cats on Wildlife of the United States.” Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service report. Nature Communications 4:1396. doi: 10.1038/ncomms2380.
 
We would be happy to provide city staff with research data and reports from other cities about this issue. We urge the city to use its voice to encourage responsible cat ownership in Lawrence.
 
James F. Bresnahan, D.V.M., President, and the Board of Jayhawk Audubon Society

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