An Examination of an Iconic Trap-Neuter-Return Program: The Newburyport, Massachusetts Case Study
Independent Researcher, 4758 Ridge Road, #409, Cleveland, OH 44144, USA
Best Friends Animal Society, 5001 Angel Canyon Road, Kanab, UT 84741, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 14 October 2017 / Revised: 25 October 2017 / Accepted: 26 October 2017 / Published: 31 October 2017
Local communities in the United States are commonly responsible for selecting the most appropriate method of managing free-roaming cats. Lethal management has been widely utilized for generations, but the use of trap–neuter–return (TNR) has grown in recent decades. Despite expanded use of TNR, a relative scarcity of data associated with such programs exists. This paper retrospectively examines an iconic TNR program—began in 1992—that resulted in the elimination of hundreds of cats from the Newburyport, Massachusetts, waterfront. A careful review of contemporaneous reports, extant program documents, and stakeholder testimony indicates that an estimated 300 cats resided in the area at the commencement of the TNR program; none remained 17 years later. Up to one-third of the cats trapped were sociable and adopted into homes; the remainder were sterilized and vaccinated before being returned to the waterfront, where they declined in number over time due to attrition. A compelling narrative emerged from the available evidence concerning the effectiveness of TNR as a management practice, although a lack of feline population data associated with the Newburyport TNR program underscores the need for establishment of standardized data collection and assessment practices.