Illinois Audubon Cites Shortcomings of Proposed Trap, Neuter, Release Legislation

Legislative Update

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.


  • 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.

4 thoughts on “Illinois Audubon Cites Shortcomings of Proposed Trap, Neuter, Release Legislation

  1. Thank you for sharing the Illinois Audubon’s humane position on this bill! TNR is cruelty to animals. Homeless cats live hard lives full of fear and die from disease, being hit by cars, freezing, being torn apart by dogs and other predators, and are often cruelly killed by people who consider them a nuisance . Before dying, they torment and kill native animals who are having a hard time surviving human encroachment and environmental degradation. Tax dollars shouldn’t subsidize cruelty to animals!

  2. The IL Legislature has a lot more pressing problems than trying to figure out how to release unwanted pets into the environment. They should focus less resources on finding new ways to harm wildlife and redirect that effort to doing their actual job. There needs to be accountability for groups that support this measure and consequences for the congressmen that support this effort (not just limited to this bill) by their votes in committee and on the floor.

  3. Amen, Mr. George. I love my two little terriers very much and if I were given the option to either euthanize or release them in the wild, euthanizing them is – hand’s down – the only choice. The cruel death which awaits domestic animals in the wild is the definition of inhumane.

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