The Florida county that includes the city of Tampa Bay has approved a pilot program that will allow up to 4,000 feral cats to be trapped, neutered, vaccinated and returned (TNVR) to their outdoor environments over the next two years.
The Hillsborough Board of County Commissioners approved the plan Dec. 18. Trapping is scheduled to begin in January 2014.
Several groups, including the Humane Society of Tampa Bay and the Animal Coalition of Tampa, had pushed for the program, which is designed to reduce the number of cats who end up being put down in animal shelters. According to the Tampa Tribune, more than 600 adult cats and kittens are killed at the county shelter each month. The cats chosen for the pilot program will be ferals scheduled for euthanasia.
“If we really and truly want to lower euthanasia in Hillsborough County, we had to have this program,” Sherry Silk, executive director of the local humane society, told Tampa TV station FOX 13.
Other parts of Florida have been less hospitable toward feral cats. In September, the Walton County Sheriff’s Office declined to file charges against a local man who shot a feral cat to death. And in January, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced plans to trap and remove outdoor cats from a wildlife refuge in southern Florida, imposing a likely death sentence on many of these felines.