Urban Wildlands Release: Dr. Longcore Recommends "Removal" of Feral Cats As Opposed to TNR

"Removal" of course, means catch and kill.

The Urban Wildlands Group, Inc. 

Contact:  Babak Naficy, Esq. FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 
Law Office of Babak Naficy December 7, 2009 
Travis Longcore, Ph.D. 
Science Director 
The Urban Wildlands Group 
Superior Court Orders City of Los Angeles To Stop Controversial 
Feral Cat Program Pending Environmental Review 
Conservation groups win suit to force city to conduct required environmental review of 
feral cat program 
Six conservation groups won a lawsuit on Friday against the City of Los Angeles and its 
Department of Animal Services to stop the practice of encouraging feral cat colonies until the 
legally required environmental impact reviews are performed. 
The Los Angeles Superior Court found that the City of Los Angeles had been “secretly and 
unofficially” promoting “Trap-Neuter-Return,” a controversial program to allow feral cats to run 
free, even while the Department of Animal Services promised to conduct an environmental 
review of the program.  The Court ordered the City to stop implementing TNR.   
The plaintiffs, The Urban Wildlands Group, Endangered Habitats League, Los Angeles Audubon 
Society, Palos Verdes/South Bay Audubon Society, Santa Monica Bay Audubon Society, and the 
American Bird Conservancy, sued the City in June 2008 to ensure that the controversial program 
to sanction and maintain feral cat colonies was not implemented before a full and public 
environmental analysis. 
The groups decided legal action was necessary after their investigation revealed that the City had 
been unofficially implementing a so-called “Trap-Neuter-Return” program and the City 
repeatedly declined their request to stop implementing the program until environmental review 
was performed. 
Although the City insisted that no such program existed, the Court concurred with the 
conservation groups and concluded in its Friday ruling that, “implementation of the program is 
pervasive, albeit ‘informal and unspoken.’”  
“Our goal was to see that the City follows the California Environmental Quality Act by 
thoroughly assessing the program’s impacts on the environment and considering alternatives and 
mitigation measures before making specific programmatic decisions,” said Babak Naficy, 
attorney for plaintiffs.   
“Feral cats have a range of impacts to wildlife, human health, and water quality in our cities.  
The impacts of institutionalizing the maintenance of feral cat colonies through TNR should be 
discussed in an open, public process before any such program is implemented,” Naficy said.   
In June 2005, the Los Angeles Board of Animal Services Commissioners adopted TNR as the 
“preferred method of dealing with feral cat populations as its official policy.”  Thereafter, the 
Board directed the General Manager to prepare an analysis of the program under the California 
Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).   
This analysis was never completed but the Department implemented major portions of the 
program anyway.   
The Department issued coupons for free or discounted spay/neuter procedures for feral cats 
being returned to neighborhoods and open spaces, including parks and wildlife areas.  It also 
began refusing to accept trapped feral cats or to issue permits to residents to trap feral cats.   
The Department assisted outside organizations that performed TNR by donating public space, 
advertising their services, and referring the public to their TNR programs.  The Department even 
encouraged and assisted in establishing new feral cat colonies at City-owned properties. 
The Superior Court recognized these actions as illegal implementation of the TNR program that 
could have an impact on the environment and enjoined the City from further pursuing the 
program until it complied with CEQA.   
Dr. Travis Longcore, Science Director of The Urban Wildlands Group, said, “Feral cats are 
documented predators of native wildlife.  We support spaying and neutering all cats in Los 
Angeles, which is the law, but do not support release of this non-native predator into our open 
spaces and neighborhoods where they kill birds and other wildlife.” 
Even when fed by humans, cats instinctively hunt prey, including birds, lizards and small 
mammals.  Colonies of feral cats, often thriving with the aid of handouts from humans, harm 
native wildlife and contaminate water bodies with fecal bacteria. 
Longcore continued, “TNR is promoted as a way to reduce feral cat populations but scientific 
research shows that 70–90% of cats must be sterilized for cat populations to decline.  This is 
virtually impossible to achieve in practice, but population reduction can be achieved with only 
50% removal.” 
The City must now stop its TNR program and any further proposal to implement such a program 
must undergo objective scientific review as part of the CEQA process.  This will ensure that the 
public has adequate opportunity to comment and that significant impacts on parks, wildlife, 
water quality, and human health are avoided.   
For further information about Trap-Neuter-Return see: 
Longcore, T., C. Rich, and L. M. Sullivan. 2009. Critical assessment of claims regarding 
management of feral cats by trap–neuter–return. Conservation Biology 23(4):887–894.  
Williams, T. 2009. Felines fatales. Audubon Magazine. Sept-Oct, pp. 30–38. 


Anonymous said...

any chance you can find out who is doing the CEQA for this? The city doing it themselves or hiring a consultant? I work for a env firm and i'm looking into it as well.. let me know.

Anonymous said...

NO ONE is doing the study. That is the point. The conservation groups ask for a study, which nobody is going to pay for, which effectively stops the city's participation in TNR.

I don't see how you can say kill free roaming cats, and at the same time fight so hard for other animals. I don't see how cats can be more damaging to habitat or wildlife than what humans do, especially not in an urban environment like Los Angeles.


Anonymous said...

Poster one, the City was going to do it inhouse. I don't know if they still are.

Poster two, the City doesn't have the money to do a report. They also don't have the money or manpower to round up all the feral cats in the City. That is not what the lawsuit is about. The lawsuit was about the city using city funds to do tnr. They neutered some feral cats, had some info on their website. That's it. The public and nonprofits can still do tnr in the city. I don't think this lawsuit will change anything.