Solutions for People, Animals and Environment
Tales of WellBeing – Issue 1, January 2020
This issue of "Tales of WellBeing” features a story about a successful outdoor cat management program located on Key Largo. The management of domestic cats has become a hot topic in North America and Australasia. Many wildlife biologists are strongly opposed to procedures that leave cats, albeit sterilized, in the environment but an approach called trap-neuter-return (TNR) is, to date, the only method that has been demonstrated to reduce domestic cat pressures on wildlife in larger landscapes.

This issue also includes an item drawing readers’ attention to a new blog, Animal Matters, by a colleague who is helping WellBeing International compose relatively lucid articles.

I also feel compelled to mention the Australian bushfires that have taken on terrifying new forms in the very dry and very hot conditions currently found on both ends of the continent of Australia. News reports are saying that as many as one billion animals have perished, which is heartbreaking and devastating. We mostly feature positive and/or whimsical items in “Tales of WellBeing,” so we will include a feature about the bushfires and what they mean for people, animals and the environment in the next issue of “WellBeing News.”

ORCAT – A Successful Cat Management Project for
People, Animals and Environment
By Andrew Rowan

Outdoor cats can be a challenge for people and wildlife, especially on islands and in areas with sensitive wildlife, such as the Florida Keys. Solutions are often elusive due to varied community interests, lack of resources and conflicts between wildlife biologists and animal activists.

But the Ocean Reef Community Association (ORCAT)’s trap-neuter-release (TNR) project has overcome these obstacles. It continues to demonstrate how community stakeholders can work together to implement humane management approaches that produce positive long-term outcomes for People, Animals and the Environment (PAE, which is the WellBeing International triad).

It all began when Alan Litman of Pittsburgh, who is a part-time resident of the upscale Ocean Reef community on Key Largo, would not accept trap-and-kill approach, which was then considered the standard method to manage an outdoor cat population that had become a nuisance to some residents.

Two of the last remaining outdoor cats hunting for their “prey” at an ORCAT feeding station.

So, with the support of the Ocean Reef Community Association, its employee Susan Hershey and other founders, Litman established ORCAT in the early 1990s to manage local outdoor cats with TNR (trap-neuter-return).
The idea was that if enough cats were trapped and sterilized, then the population would eventually stabilize and decline. In Hershey’s first count of outdoor cats in 1995, she stopped counting when she reached 1,900(!). The cat population is now down to around 200 cats. Amazing results!
Hershey is still running ORCAT, though Litman died in 2004. Meanwhile, the project’s humane approach has been and continues to be a tremendous success according to many animal advocates and the Ocean Reef community.

Animal Matters
by Andrew Rowan

A longtime animal welfare colleague, Robert Blizard, started a blog, Animal Matters, last October. As of today, he has posted fifteen articles or a little more than four per month to the site. As part of a team trying to maintain a schedule of two newsletters each month, we acutely know how time-consuming such a venture can be.

He has worked with me as a colleague and also as a leader at local shelters such as the Norfolk SPCA and Washington (DC) Animal Rescue League. For three years, he explored animal topics through a biweekly newspaper column by the same name in the Virginian-Pilot, serving the Hampton Roads of Virginia, and he’s published numerous articles on animal issues during the last two decades.

The blog focuses on animal issues and, in particular, on people engaged to some degree in animal advocacy. For example, his most recent story features Caryn Ginsberg, who is currently helping animal protection organizations improve their strategic thinking and marketing effectiveness via her consulting firm, Priority Visuals.

Earlier blogs feature other animal advocates, including Christie Smith (the retired executive director of the Robert Potter League animal shelter in Newport, Rhode Island), Holly Hazard (lawyer and founder of the Doris Day Animal League in 1987), Scott Giacoppo (currently president of the National Animal Control Association), Senator Mark Warner (senior senator from the commonwealth of Virginia) and more.

The blogs are not all about people. The first blog (not surprisingly) features the animals who have shared his life to date. Others cover historical issues such as American founding fathers’ interactions with animals: Thomas Jefferson’s use of the phrase “canine appetite” and his attitude to his dogs, as well as different species kept by George Washington on his Mount Vernon estate.

So, I encourage you to bookmark Animal Matters and spend a few moments reading about the people and events that spark Rob Blizard’s muse!

Rob & Friends

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