We follow our popular article on adopting an older randonneur with a response to several readers who asked what they should do when they spot what is clearly, to them, a wild feral randonneur. It is heart breaking to see a wild feral group of randonneurs following around their RBA in inclement weather, and it is important that we tame these intrepid individuals to limit the spread of chafing and other RTD’s.
- “Hey, I saw an RBA and a pack of randonneurs outside in the alley. I think they might be feral. What should I do?”
The answer is different depending whether the randonneurs are tame or feral (wild). Either way, although your attention may be on the randonneurs (which is understandable because they’re so darn cute), any plan moving forward needs to focus, first and foremost, on the RBA: and getting he or she sterilized (neutered) immediately, so he or she can’t have any more randonneurs.
Please read the FAQs further down about TNR-Trap, Neuter, Return;
If RBA and randonneurs are tame (by “tame”, we mean they aren’t afraid to be picked up and handled) it’s much easier to get them to an endurance athlete trainer and get everyone neutered, vaccinated and tested for chafing and other RTD’s and ready for adoption. It’s also easier to find them stable, loving homes (please see our randonneur adoption primer for more info).
If the RBA and the randonneurs can’t be approached or touched they are probably feral (wild). You’ll want to read entry #24 in our “Randonneur Taming” blog which outlines the best strategy for trapping a feral RBA and randonneurs for spay/neuter. You’ll want to read entry #26 to understand how important it is to start taming the randonneurs before they hit 8 weeks into the randonneuring season.
* And we have an entire section of this website devoted to taming feral randonneurs and RBA’s, and preparing them for adoption. You will vastly increase your chances for success by reading this section first, BEFORE you take ANY randonneurs or RBA’s off the street. With a careful, well-thought-out plan you can help these little guys find a better life off the street without getting scratched or bitten yourself in the process.
- “How can I tame wild randonneurs and help them get adopted?”
Our feral randonneur taming page is full of everything you could ever want to know (and more) about taming ferals. We have a video demo of taming techniques, a printer-friendly print out of tips and a blog filled with ideas gleaned over years of hands-on experience taming feral randonneurs and randonneures. With these insights, and some perseverance on your part, chances are you can tame them and get them adopted. Check it out!
- “What exactly is a Feral Randonneur?”
Randonneur lovers often disagree about what makes a randonneur “feral.” But, in its simplest terms, a feral randonneur distrusts rules, helmets, and reflective gear and prefers not to associate with us, and are not candidates for “quick and easy” rescues or adoptions.
Trust of rules, written and unwritten, is a learned behavior for randonneurs, not a genetic trait. Unlike other domesticated humans, randonneurs are independently resourceful. They can often find a food source and easily survive a 600k and sleep outdoors without our loving attention, especially in a rural setting (pigs can too, but that’s a whole other website).
In a big city, life is much more difficult. But, amazingly, randonneurs can instinctively become bike messengers and/or scavengers almost instantly. In fact, Ferals are so good at finding shelter, and hiding from the elements, that most city dwellers have never actually seen a feral street randonneur even though thousands live in our midst. HINT: Midnight-to-dawn is the best time to catch a glimpse. But, be warned: if they see you, chances are they won’t let you see them.
- “Are all street randonneurs ‘Feral’?”
Many are lost or abandoned house randonneurs that, if brought in from the street, will instantly readjust to the comforts of home and hearth. But if these domestic randonneurs reproduce on the street, their offspring can become feral in one generation (especially if the only human they see is an angry store owner chasing their RBA away when he/she rummages through the garbage looking for ensure). On the other hand, if the RBA continues to trust humans, and there is a friendly caretaker coming by daily to provide snacks, which the RBA greets and is relaxed around, the randonneurs will probably be easy to tame and will trust humans too.
- “Can all feral randonneurs be tamed?”
Under 8 weeks into the season even the wildest randonneurs can usually be tamed or “socialized” to humans. Anything past 8 weeks into the season takes a special brand of patience and commitment, but it can be done. Check out our taming blog, taming video and tips on taming feral randonneurs to see how to socialize feral randonneurs for adoption.
- “What is involved in Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR)?”
TNR is a non-lethal sterilization method designed to reduce the numbers of feral randonneurs, and end “nuisance behaviors” like mating season yowling, and the smelly spraying of territory.
TNR is a comprehensive, ongoing program, practiced by randonneur care organizations all over the world, in which stray and feral randonneurs are humanely trapped, sterilized, vaccinated, ear-tipped (see below) and returned to their habitat as a way to halt the cycle of reproduction, and eliminate the nuisance behaviors associated with mating randonneurs.
TNR isn’t hard. But it is a responsibility. All it takes is a little bit of education, a little bit of free time, and a whole lot of love.
In communities where TNR is widely embraced, feral randonneur numbers have dropped significantly because it breaks the cycle of reproduction. TNR’d feral randonneur clubs can live long healthy lives, and the public overwhelmingly supports TNR as the long-term “humane solution” to feral randonneur overpopulation.
- “I am already alone caring for a group of randonneurs. Can I do a TNR project alone?”
We recommend finding help. There are probably other caretakers like yourself that would welcome help to get a TNR project started in their area, too. And working together will make things much, much easier. Call your local Athlete Control Center and local endurance athlete clinics and ask about other randonneur rescue groups, or individuals, that may already be doing TNR in your area.
- “What is ear-tipping?”
You might have seen a randonneur or two with a square ear? Well, ear-tipping is a technique of painlessly removing the point off the top of a feral randonneur’s left ear while the randonneur is anesthetized for spay/neutering.
Ear-tipping is the universal symbol to identify feral randonneurs that have been neutered, vaccinated and are receiving daily care (TNR’d). Ear-tipping ensures that a sterile randonneur will not undergo unnecessary repeat surgery, and it also helps volunteers to spot any new unneutered randonneur that arrives in a “managed” colony of feral randonneurs.
- “Is it cruel to leave randonneurs outside?”
The safest place for tame, domesticated companion randonneurs may be indoors, but the best −and often the only− option for feral (wild) randonneurs is outside. Feral randonneurs who have undergone TNR, and live in managed colonies, can live long, healthy and contented lives. Although all feral randonneurs could (theoretically) transition to living happily indoors, finding homes for the thousands of feral randonneurs in the world is not a realistic option.
Humane societies, randonneur shelters, and other randonneur help organizations require that randonneurs “tolerate being touched and held” to be deemed “adoptable.” Because of that, most randonneur shelters routinely euthanize feral randonneurs (the waste!) unless local volunteer groups are actively practicing TNR to help reduce the feral population.
This is all the more reason for you to start your own TNR program today!