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Back to School: An Updated Evaluation of the Effectiveness of a Long-Term Trap-Neuter-Return Program on a University’s Free-Roaming Cat Population

1
Independent Researcher, 4758 Ridge Road, #409, Cleveland, OH 44144, USA
2
Best Friends Animal Society, 5001 Angel Canyon Road, Kanab, UT 84741, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Animals 2019, 9(10), 768; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9100768
Received: 25 July 2019 / Revised: 11 September 2019 / Accepted: 4 October 2019 / Published: 8 October 2019
Since the early 1990s, the use of trap-neuter-return (TNR) as a humane alternative to the lethal management of stray and feral cats (also known as community cats) has expanded in the United States. Over this time, numerous studies have pointed to the effectiveness of TNR at reducing community cat numbers, although many of these investigations have covered relatively short time periods (3 years or less). A seminal paper by Levy et al. in 2003, documented a significant decline in community cat numbers on the campus of the University of Central Florida (UCF) over a 11-year period. Since 2017, a series of peer-reviewed articles have described other examples of long-term reductions in community cat numbers associated with TNR. The present study adds to this growing body of evidence by revealing the extent to which the results first reported by Levy et al. have been sustained over a subsequent 17-year period. After a total of 28 years, 10 (5%) of 204 total cats enrolled in the UCF TNR program, remain on campus and the campus community cat population has declined by 85% from the completion of an initial census in 1996 to 2019.
A growing body of evidence indicates that trap-neuter-return (TNR) is not only effective at reducing community cat numbers, but that such reductions are sustainable over extended periods. Recently, a series of peer-reviewed articles documenting long-term declines in community cat populations associated with TNR have been published. The present study adds to this pool of evidence by updating and reexamining results reported from the campus of the University of Central Florida (UCF) in 2003 by Levy et al. From 1991 to 2019, a total of 204 cats were enrolled in a volunteer-run TNR program on the university grounds; 10 cats (5%) remained on site at the conclusion of the present study. The campus community cat population declined by 85% between 1996, the year an initial census (indicating the presence of 68 cats) was completed, and 2019. In addition, 11 of 16 total colonies were eliminated over a 28-year period. These results occurred despite significant growth in enrollment at UCF over the same time frame, which suggests that with sufficient ongoing management of colony sites, declines in community cat populations associated with TNR are sustainable over long periods and under varying conditions. View Full-Text
Keywords: trap-neuter-return (TNR); feral cats; free-roaming cats; community cats; non-lethal management; population reductions trap-neuter-return (TNR); feral cats; free-roaming cats; community cats; non-lethal management; population reductions
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Spehar, D.D.; Wolf, P.J. Back to School: An Updated Evaluation of the Effectiveness of a Long-Term Trap-Neuter-Return Program on a University’s Free-Roaming Cat Population. Animals 2019, 9, 768.

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