The need for national animal population control and the difficulties of implementation
Estimates vary, but somewhere between 10 and 20 million unwanted dogs and cats are euthanized every year in the United States alone. Several million additional animals starve to death, are shot, killed on highways or meet some other unpleasant end to their lives during that time.
Almost everyone recognizes this as a very tragic situation, but fewer have an appreciation for the many other consequences of pet overpopulation.
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Cost to society
Animal control programs are very costly to society, with state run dog pounds and rescue centres all having to be funded by government using hard earned taxes. These dogs have to be cared for, they have to be vaccinated and sterilised or euthanized. If there were no strays and unwanted litters, there would be no need for pounds and rescue centres and government could spend that portion of our taxes on other pressing matters.
Stray dogs inflict dozens of serious bites on humans and children as well as on other dogs each year. The risk of serious disablement and cost to the medical sector aside, you could also pick up diseases from unvaccinated dogs. Unwanted and uncared for animals contribute significantly to sanitation problems in large cities.
Animal population control is the practice of artificially altering the size of any animal population. It typically refers to the act of limiting the size of an animal population so that it remains manageable. It may involve:
Professional huntsmen are used to bring down the numbers of over populated animals. Game farms and nature reserve parks are prone to use this method.
Rather than cull, if the option is there animals that are over populated gets located to other areas where there are too little of them. This happens often that unwanted dogs from Ireland gets shipped over to the UK and rehomed there
- Manipulation of the reproductive capability
Manipulation of the reproductive capability includes measures of sterilization. You can read some more on this issue in our article about sterilization – everything you have not been told.
- Restricting food supply
The theory is that if there is enough food to go around, it encourages population growth and if there is not enough food only the strongest survive and the rest will die off.
If predators are introduced, whether it is natural or not, it will naturally help to keep the numbers down.
The main biotic factors that affect population growth include:
- Food– both the quantity and the quality of food are important. Snails, for example, cannot reproduce successfully in an environment low in calcium, no matter how much food there is because they need this mineral for shell growth.
- Predators– as a prey population becomes larger, it becomes easier for predators to find prey. If the number of predators suddenly falls, the prey species might increase in number extremely quickly.
- Competitors– other organisms may require the same resources from the environment, and so reduce the growth of a population. For example, all plants compete for light. Competition for territory and for mates can drastically reduce the growth of individual organisms.
- Parasites– These may cause disease, and slow down the growth and reproductive rate of organisms within a population.
Important A-biotic factors affecting population growth include:
- Temperature– Higher temperatures speed up enzyme-catalyzed reactions and increase
- Oxygen availability– affects the rate of energy production by respiration.
- Light availability– for photosynthesis. Light may also control breeding cycles in animals and plants.
- Toxins and pollutants– tissue growth can be reduced by the presence of, for example, sulphur dioxide, and reproductive success may be affected by pollutants such as estrogen like substances.
We all need to lend a hand in preventing overpopulation and the subsequent result of having to try and control the population. Spay and neuter if you can and adopt rather than buy if it’s possible.