PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. - There is an ongoing fight against an overwhelming feral feline population in Palm Beach County. Much of that battle is fought in secret, in the dark, and possibly right under your nose. It is against county rules to feed or trap the animals without permission from the property owner. That is why much of that work is done under the radar and at night.
Their eyes cut through the night. Feral cats - by the thousands - are roaming through Palm Beach County. One by one, Boynton Beach's Tami Schreurs is trying to catch these feral felines.
"I had an awesome year last year," said Schreurs. "Collectively, we did 320."
Schreurs is part of an underground network of hundreds of volunteers; many of whom are using the 'Trap, Neuter and Return' or 'TNR' system. Often, though, they are accused of being a part of the problem. "We're definitely making a difference," said Schreurs.
Schreurs take the animals that she traps to Peggy Adams Animal Rescue to be spayed or neutered, then they will be returned to exactly where they were found. It is an alternative to euthanasia, with aims of reducing feral cat populations long-term.
This week's trappings went smoothly for Schreurs, but it does not always go this way. "We're the crazy cat people and why are you feeding these cats?," she said of her critics.
It is the feeding of feral cats - without spaying or neutering - that many people says only makes the feral feline problem worse.
"If you're feeding cats and you're not going the extra mile and getting them sterilized, than you are doing more harm than good," said Capt. Dave Walesky of Palm Beach County Animal Care & Control.
Schreurs is convinced she is helping the cats - and the community. "This was just a niche I found, where I can do some good," she said.
The practice of 'Trap, Neuter, Return' is being welcomed by many Palm Beach County leaders and animal activists as a way to cut back on the feral cat population in the long run. It could take years to find out how successful the practice may be.