Doña Ana County, Las Cruces consider feral cat program

DA County looking at Feral Cat Program

LAS CRUCES, N.M. - Could Las Cruces and Doña Ana County get a new feral cat program? That was the big debate at a work session on Tuesday.

It's no secret that feral cats are a big problem in the county. The Animal Services Center of the Mesilla Valley euthanizes thousands each year.

Some say that needs to change. They're proposing a trap-neuter-release (TNR) program.

There is one on the New Mexico State University campus. That program has been running since 2002.

Volunteers set up feeding stations around campus. They use special cages to catch stray cats and neuter them. They also euthanize cats that are sick and adopt out cats that can be socialized.

Some people don't think this kind of program would be good for the city and county. They think releasing the cats back into the area promotes diseases like rabies. They also said feral cats are a danger to wild animal populations.

Michelle Corella, the director of the NMSU Feral Cat Management Program, thinks a TNR program is the right solution.

Since 2002, Corella said the program has reduced the cat population on campus from 250 to 50. Corella said the program has prevented thousands of kittens from being born.

She believes it could work on a larger scale, but it will take time before results are seen.

"What we're doing isn't working. If killing 100,000 cats from 1989 to 2012 has not solved the problem. I think that's proof that what we're doing isn't working. We simply can't kill our way out of this problem. I want the same thing they want. I want less cats," Corella told ABC-7.

City Manager Robert Garza said this is just a discussion for now. The city council won't be able to hold a work session on the matter until next year.

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