Extension of the program to address the number of feral cats

By Mike Cook

The Las Cruces City Council has approved a Trap, Neuter and Release (TNR) program and is working with the Mesilla Valley Animal Services Center (ASCMV) to humanely reduce the number of stray cats in the city.

At its regular meeting on June 21, City Council unanimously approved a resolution supporting a TNR policy for the city.

The ASCMV receives annual funding of $3.4 million from the City of Las Cruces and Doña Ana County, which jointly operate the center. The city could increase funding for the ASCMV to hire a TNR coordinator and further support the TNR program, and that increased funding could be offset by the county, said ASCMV executive director Clint Thacker.

Through its TNR program, the city lends traps to residents free of charge to capture feral cats, which are taken to the ASCMV to be neutered or neutered, microchipped, fitted with an ear tip, and returned to the area. where they come from, City Animal Control Supervisor Gino told Jimenez. If a cat is sick or injured, the ASCMV has the discretion to euthanize it rather than the TNR, he said.

“It’s a new program,” Jimenez said. “For this to succeed, we would need citizen participation.”

Wild cat problem

“I believe almost every city has a feral cat problem,” Thacker said. “Humans, in general, have understood that cats are fine outside and don’t need to be neutered. Unfortunately, this has resulted in overcrowding in most areas. Las Cruces is no exception. We have an above average feral cat population compared to our human population. Of course, we have no way of counting feral cats, but we can refer to our annual pound of 3,000-4,000 brought to the ASCMV each year. (Visit https://ascmv.org/ascmv-annual-reports/.)

In 2021, the ASCMV euthanized 866 cats, Thacker said.

“The total number of those that were feral cats was 332,” he said. “Everyone else was sick or injured to some degree. This does not include euthanasia requested by the owner (the cat is old or injured and the owner asks us to perform the euthanasia).

ASCMV’s surgery department performed more than 1,300 TNR surgeries in 2021, Thacker said.

“What a Goliath effort! This team of four techs, a vet and a few contract vets did all the vaccination, microchipping, ear tipping and neutering of those over 1,300 cats,” Thacker said. , we have the co-workers who drive all over the valley and free the cats!It’s teamwork that is often overlooked.

City traps and deterrents

In addition to traps, the city also has a limited number of cat repellents available on loan to city residents, Jimenez said. They include motion-activated sprinklers, audio deterrents, and spiked garden tapes. None of the devices are lethal, but they all discourage cats from visiting sites where they are not wanted.

If a landlord or renter discovers after a week of testing that a deterrent works, they can return the loaner device to the city and buy one, Jimenez said.

Traps and deterrents are available at local hardware stores and online.

City residents can pick up traps and deterrents from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday at the city’s East Mesa Security Complex, 550 N. Sonoma Ranch Blvd. Dial 575-528-4100 and 4520.

Thacker said the ASCMV does not loan traps or deterrents, but is now working with the non-profit Best Friends Animal Society to obtain different types of cat deterrents that can be loaned.

City cat colonies

The city requires that people who care for feral cat colonies in Las Cruces register with either the city or the ASCMV. This will help determine the success of the TNR program, Jimenez said, by showing whether cat colony populations are declining.

Registration as a sitter is not mandatory, he said, and it does not mean that the person registering owns the colony cats they care for.

“All you’re saying is you feed them and give them water,” Jimenez said.

“We want to see that number come down slowly,” he said, and “reduce the number of feral and unknown cats in the community and do it in a humane way.”

With the city’s TNR program in place, Thacker said he “absolutely, 100 percent expects to see a reduction in the city’s feral cat population.” Studies show it will take more than five years to start seeing results,” Thacker said. “Other cities have approached TNR in the right way and now have empty chat rooms in their shelters – that’s a good result.”

TNR County

The county doesn’t have a TNR program, Thacker said, but it has decriminalized TNR, which allows the ASCMV to release county cats back to the area they came from after they’ve been spayed, vaccinated and provided with. out of one ear.

It’s not a full-fledged TNR program, however, Thacker said, because the county doesn’t have an educational or conflict resolution component. These could be handled by a TNR coordinator, he said. (Dispute resolution means resolving disputes between people regarding feral cat colonies.)

“Please sterilize your cats!” »

Message from Thacker to everyone in the city and county: “Neuter your cats! It is a human problem. Humans let these cats out. Humans abandon cats when they move. Humans buy kittens from someone on the street and don’t sterilize them.

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Jennifer R. Strohm