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Feral Cats Cause Rabies Outbreak in New Mexico | The Wildlife Society News
Blog — April 18, 2012

Feral cats have been identified as the cause of a major rabies outbreak in New Mexico, prompting local officials to suspend a trap-neuter-release program. At least a dozen residents of Eddy County have been forced to endure rabies injections to prevent them from getting the disease and 30 pet dogs have been euthanized to prevent the further spread of the disease. Many cats have had to be euthanized as well. I hate to say I told you so, but this case illustrates the growing danger that feral cat colonies and trap-neuter-release (TNR) pose to humans, domestic animals and wildlife through disease transmission and, of course, their well-known predation on migratory birds and other small animals. The feral cats apparently were infected by a skunk. Skunks and raccoons, well-documented vectors of rabies, are also attracted to feral cat colonies by the food put out by caretakers, thus increasing the risk of transmission. This is why The Willdife Society and many other veterinary, scientific and conservation-oriented organizations have opposed trap-neuter-release programs for feral cats. Once again, the evidence against TNR management continues to pile up. How many more such incidents will have to be endured before local municipalities overturn well-meaning, but ill-advised TNR programs?

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Michael Hutchins