Trap, Neuter & Return (TNR)
"The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated." --Ghandi.
The usual approach to controlling the feral cat population in the United States is through repeated extermination attempts. Our local shelters euthanize most feral cats and kittens trapped and brought to them. The cats and kittens being destroyed annually in Monroe County alone are astounding and worse, it is estimated that up to 50% of these cats are offspring of feral cats. Long-term studies have demonstrated the futility of such a "trap & kill" strategy, since other cats simply migrate to the newly vacated food source location, replacing the killed animals and beginning the cycle of reproduction once again. Sterilization, not elimination is the answer!
On the other hand, trap-neuter-return programs are a very successful and proven method of decreasing feral cat populations.
TNR is a more evolved, non-lethal program widely utilized in Europe, and fortunately, is gaining support here in the United States. It is endorsed by the American Veterinary Medical Association, Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine, and the Cornell Feline Health Center among others. It is a program that succeeds at the least cost to the public while providing the best possible life for the feral cats themselves.