The Maui Humane Society is embarking on a massive cat sterilization effort to stem the island’s overpopulation of feral cats.
The organization’s cat-sterilization campaign is set to hold its first clinic in June, the Maui News newspaper reported. The organization hopes to trap and sterilize hundreds of feral cats every couple months for five years.
For the effort, the organization has partnered with Animal Balance, a nonprofit group that advocates sterilization for population control of dogs and cats.
"Nothing of this magnitude has ever been done on Maui," said Maui Humane Society CEO Jerleen Bryant. "This is pretty groundbreaking for us, and we hope Maui’s success can serve as a template for the other Hawaiian Islands."
In June, organizers aim to sterilize 600 cats in a five-day period, with trapping efforts focused in the Kanaha area, which has an estimated 2,000 unsterilized cats. That’s the highest community cat population on the island, Bryant said.
"If we hold a clinic and we have 20 feral cats, there’s a high likelihood that all the cats are pregnant," Bryant said. "That’s what prolific breeders they are. The only humane solution is to decrease the number of animals being born."
There also are plans to hold trapping and sterilizing clinics in other parts of the island such as Iao Valley, Bryant said.
Maui’s largest nonprofit no-kill cat rescue and sanctuary, 9th Life Hawaii, also employs overpopulation measures, including a program that sends cats to the mainland with tourists. The group also sends cats to Fort Lupton, Colo., through its adoption program, "Meowy from Maui."