SB 641, now in the Illinois House of Representatives, amends the Animal Control Act to provide that money from registration fees from cats and dogs may be used to trap feral cats for spaying or neutering and return to the wild.
The Illinois Audubon Society opposes SB 641 because we feel that programs that seek to reduce feral cat populations via trap, neuter/spay, and release should (1) include provisions that prohibit the release of feral cats near wildlife areas, (2) protect the rights of neighbors potentially affected by the release, and (3) contribute to assessments of whether the program is having a measurable effect in reducing feral cat populations. SB 641 does not address these concerns and leaves regulation of such programs to the counties in which they would be implemented.
Members should contact their legislator to express their opinions on this bill. (Find your legislator and contact information here.)
Background on Cat Mortality of Birds and Mammals
- Cats are a significant source of bird and small mammal mortality. Estimates are that cats may kill more than 1 billion birds per year in the United States.1
- Unowned (i.e., feral) cats contribute nearly two-thirds of the annual estimated bird mortality and 90% of the estimated annual mammal mortality.1
- Cats also are believed to be responsible for two-thirds of the injuries seen in birds brought to wildlife rehabilitation centers and 73% of the small mammal admissions.2
Background on the Illinois Public Health and Safety Animal Population Control Act (510 ILCS 92/)
- The Act was established in 2005 to implement an Illinois Public Health and Safety Animal Population Control Program.
- The purpose of the program was to reduce the population of unwanted and stray dogs and cats in Illinois by encouraging the owners of dogs and cats to have them permanently sexually sterilized and vaccinated, thereby reducing potential threats to public health and safety.
- Residents of the State who own a dog or cat and who are eligible for the Food Stamp Program or the Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits Program are eligible to participate in the program.
- The Act also created the Pet Population Control Fund which holds money generated from public safety fines collected as provided in the Animal Control Act, from the sale of Pet Friendly license, and from voluntary contributions and which can be used to sterilize and vaccinate dogs and cats in this State pursuant to the program, to promote the sterilization program, and to educate the public about the importance of spaying and neutering.
SENATE BILL 641
- Adds “spay, neuter, and vaccinate feral cats in programs recognized by the county or a municipality” to the allowable uses for the pet population control funds.
- The existing allowable uses are (1) spay, neuter, vaccinate, or sterilize adopted dogs or cats; and (2) spay, neuter, or vaccinate dogs or cats owned by low income county residents who are eligible for the Food Stamp Program or Social Security Disability Benefits Program.
1 Loss, S.R., Will, T., Marra, P. P. (2013), The impact of free-ranging domestic cats on wildlife of the United States. Nature Communications 4:1396
2 Mcruer, D.L., Gray, L.C., Horne, L.A. and Clark, E.E. (2017), Free-roaming cat interactions with wildlife admitted to a wildlife hospital. Journal of Wildlife Management 81:163–173.