In a legal victory for EHL and its allies, the City of Los Angeles must stop promoting the release of feral cats into the environment pending review under CEQA.

A building threat to urban and suburban wildlife – particularly resident and migratory birds – is large colonies of feral cats fed and maintained by well intentioned but ecologically misguided citizens. Cats will hunt irrespective of being fed, and are estimated to kill millions of birds every year in the United States. The California quail is an example of a species highly vulnerable to feral cats – and which rapidly disappears when development encroaches.

The concept underlying the colonies is “Trap-Neuter-Release,” or TNR. Stray cats are rounded up, neutered, and released into parks, private backyards, and neighborhoods without obtaining consent. While the ostensible intent is to reduce the numbers of feral cats over time, studies have shown that TNR does not work, as the colonies become magnets for the dumping of unwanted cats, and neutering is never 100%. Highly organized, cat advocates seek an absolute “no-kill” policy, extending to humane euthanasia, putting cats in a moral category of their own – above the wildlife that is struggling to survive and above other domestic animals. Cats also pose a risk of disease to people, such as toxoplasmosis, transmitted by feces left on soil.

As a result of successful litigation by Urban Wildlands Group, American Bird Conservancy, three Los Angeles-area Audubon Society chapters, and EHL, alternatives, impacts and potential mitigations will now have to be explored for any City of Los Angeles TNR activities under the California Environmental Quality Act. This is progress for a broader view of compassion and for the nearby wild animals that need our stewardship.