People are often uneducated or misinformed about the damage feral cat colonies have on our environment. What if I told you that feral cats account for the death of between 1.4 and 3.7 billion birds and between 6.9 and 20.7 billion wild mammals according to a 2013 study. Not only this, but feral cats wreak havoc on island communities, and have already been responsible for the extinction of 18 island species and are the primary predator of 36 more critically endangered species.
Feral cats cause a wide array of issues not just for people and the communities they live in, but also for biodiversity as they are one of the most prevalent invasive species. And the root cause of their prevalence in destroying wildlife and limiting biodiversity: us. Humans end up feeding feral cat communities as we feel it is a humane gesture which causes populations to continue to rise.
In order to limit populations of feral cats, two initiatives have been adopted: euthanasia and TNR. While euthanasia elimates members of feral cat populations, it is often expensive to carry out. Largely gaining popularity in the 90s, TNR (trap, neuter, release) was adopted in order to control feral cat populations in a cost-effective manner.
TNR is a humane practice of regulating populations and actually benefits the cats health and wellbeing. One of the first places to implement TNR was Newburyport, MA, which saw a dramatic reduction of feral cats by their waterfront over the course of 17 years. At the start, around 300 feral cats roamed freely, and after 17 years, ⅓ of these cats were adoptable, and the others were effectively neutralized in reproducing, leading to none left.
Our simulation uses statistics from this research study as well as other sources listed in the source code to illustrate the effectiveness of TNR through easy-to-understand visualizations. If people can see and conceptualize the effectiveness, more will be motivated to adopt programs and get started. Our visualizations promote equity in understanding through visualizations and through our simulation we hope to inform people of the environmental problems feral cats cause as well as show them ways to reduce the population of this invasive species.
Check out our pitch deck linked here: https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1fOn9JfPNv8ywo_EzXR8Y_j8Vg4735Ley6II3q5WGbzs/edit#slide=id.p
For more information about TNR visit: https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=video&cd=9&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwjI4umg1ePoAhV4lXIEHdMDARcQtwIIUTAI&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DSw4h-xtgnsw&usg=AOvVaw09aV9s8koIGgU6t3GZxQwb
(Side note for the repl.it: Check the .png after choosing which graph, as all graph plots are displaying on one .png since matplotlib is an intensive program. If the repl.it displays incorrectly, the GitHub repo is available to view/download.)