Lindsay fixes stray cat problem with TNR program

Officer Michael Carrasco continues a trap, neuter and release program that he jump started in June of last year, resulting in 44 stray cats being fixed through the program

LINDSAY – The city of Lindsay has implemented their trap, neuter and release program for six months, and it has already kept the stray cat population down by over a thousand new births.

Stray cats have been roaming the streets of Lindsay for years, as the city’s animal control programs were few and far between. However, six months ago the city implemented a trap, neuter and release (TNR) program that has already prevented over 1,000 stray cat births, according to public safety director Rick Carrillo. 

“We were able to collect 44 cats and neuter or spay them. If you look at the numbers in a six month window of time, those cats will produce two litters [each]. That’s over 1000 births that we’ve prevented already with [animal control officer Michael Carrasco’s] efforts,” Carrillo said at the Jan. 10 city council meeting. 

Animal control officer Michael Carrasco had first presented the idea of a TNR program in June of last year. The program involves catching stray cats in a humane trap, neutering or spaying them and releasing them back into the area they were found. Without being able to breed, the amount of stray cats will go down in the long term. A large population of stray cats within a city, especially as small as Lindsay, has adverse effects on the ecosystem, according to a study by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Wildlife Services. They even go as far as naming feral populations as “invasive species spread by humans.”

Carrasco began working part time for the animal control division at the beginning of 2022. The city of Lindsay has not had a dedicated animal control program since 2009. Before Carrasco was brought on board, the police department covered animal control duties. Now, he is finally full-time with the city after a year.

The USDA study stated that the natural wildlife populations of birds, lizards and rodents are affected significantly by feral cats, disrupting the environment’s natural order. Not only that, but they can also pose a threat to humans as well, since feral cats are the most common carrier of rabies, cat scratch fever, ringworm and much more. Since feral cats produce quickly, the end result are large “cat colonies,” which typically reside in city parks. With feral cats being a possible carrier of diseases, this liability can fall on the city.

But Lindsay is not the only city facing a feral cat frenzy. In April of last year, the city of Tulare also proposed a TNR program to rid cat colonies from the city. The city joined forces with two non-profits, Visalia Feral Cat Coalition (VFCC) and the Friends of the Tulare Animal Shelter, to determine what is required to allow for a trap-neuter-release (TNR) program.

The Sun-Gazette reported in 2020, the Tulare County Board of Supervisors approved an agreement with the VFCC to implement a TNR program at Mooney’s Grove park and other communities around Visalia. The population of cats is controlled at under 20 cats now, compared to over 100 cats a few years ago. This is because the coalition was able to trap, neuter and release these cats while continuing to feed them every day. Though the city of Lindsay and Tulare are both in its beginning stages of a TNR program, the numbers are already proving to be beneficial.

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