Captain Chester Pinkston of the Wichita Police Departments Animal Control Division is eager to see TNR implemented in Wichita. His primary, if not sole, source of guidance on TNR is an organization that is barely able to ‘fix’ 1200 cats a year out of the 100,000 cats they claim roam our streets in search of food and mates. Citizen advocates for a responsible TNR, a TNR that looks out for all citizens of Wichita, tamed and untamed, human and non-human, have seen their efforts to educate him and his advisory board about the actual ‘successes’ of TNR as well as it’s shortcomings have come to nothing. Advocate Pinkston moved forward a proposal that contained exactly zero of their concerns choosing instead to advocate for a deeply flawed and dangerous proposal.
Pinkston’s zeal for TNR is bolstered in part by his use of studies on two (yes, 2) locations out of the tens of thousands that exist in the US and around the globe, to support his and the 4 True Believers of the Animal Control Advisory Boards’ assertions that TNR is an effective way to control populations of free-roaming cats and will be for the city of Wichita. This cherry picking of facts (2 cities) is not surprising since so little data, especially data that supports success, exists regarding these practices despite it being around since the 1970’s.
The articles look at the Humboldt Park section of Chicago, a suburban environ encompassing an area of 3.6 square miles. The Humboldt Park TNR program formally started in 2007 and is on-going. This program also uses microchips in the cats, a fact that Pinkston, et al ignore, claiming that $3.00 is just too expensive. The other is Newburyport, MA just north of Boston with a total area of 10.6 miles a small fraction of which was the locale for the TNR program, a strip of land less than a mile primarily around the boat docks. The Newburyport TNR began in 1992 and after 17 years saw the death by attrition of 200 cats out of a total estimate population of 300, 100 of which were adopted out or died from unnatural causes.
Here are direct links to these studies which he relies on as indicators of TNR success. I encourage to at least glance at them:
I assert that one of the reasons TNR fails so much more than it succeeds is that proponents take a cookie cutter approach to implementing these programs with no regard for geography. Both of these locales are a fraction of the size of Wichita. More importantly the area in which TNR is concentrated in each of these locales is much smaller than in our city. Efforts in Newburyport for instance were primarily focused around the docks where fishing boats moored. The carrying capacity of this area was high due to the fact that fish processing took place at the docks and there was an abundance of materials available to cats. Despite this concentration of cats it still took almost 20 years to see a decline in population to zero.
The size of the land area and the concentration of the population of both human feeders and cats is an important factor to take into account when considering the likelihood of success of a TNR program. None of the advocates in Wichita take this into account in the development of their proposal and this fact weakens the chances for success in our city of 164 square miles and a wide geographic dispersal of cat feeders.
Proponents of this plan, especially board chair Stephanie McCurdy, like to point to the success of TNR in Chicago, leaving out the fact that it is actually Humboldt Park where a modest success of TNR has occurred. Humboldt Park neighborhood is 3.6 square miles. One thing to note about this study is that the data collected was done so by citizen scientists, an action that the Friends of Feral Felines, the Advisory Board and Capt. Pinkston all adamantly refuse to practice as part of the Wichita Proposal. I have a theory as to why this is and it has to do with the shortage of homes able to adopt cats which results in the need to dump ear notched cats in our poorer neighborhoods but that is still under investigation.
The Animal Control Advisory Board has never actually engaged in a meaningful study of free-roaming cat management. Sure, they went through the motions and a subcommittee was established but the results of those studies was just more cherry picking of information. The purpose of an advisory board has been subverted by activists and the results, after 4 years, is a proposal that if implemented will burden citizens with a growing stray cat population for generations to come and remove our (property owners) ability to find respite in our homes and restitution in the event that damages are incurred by these so called ‘community cats’.
The District Advisory Boards should vote ‘no’ on this proposal. The City of Wichita should disband the Animal Control Advisory Board and instead create a balanced board made up of science based members of our community with solid credentials to study the issue of free-roaming cats in general and possibly the development of a TNR practice that will yield better results and lessen the impact of such a program on our citizenry.