Should a street animal that has been sterilized be considered wild?

Here in Mexico like many other places it is an unfortunate fact that there are numerous callejeros, both dogs and cats. Often the local governments will organize mass sterilization events and clip the ears of these animals so it is readily visible at a glance that a particular animal has been sterilized and need not be rounded up again during the next such event.

For the purposes of iNaturalist, if an animal is clearly known to be sterilized but is otherwise not under the care of humans, should it be considered wild so it can be Research Grade or ticked as “not wild” and made Casual?


I would guess that if they’re not otherwise being actively managed by people, they probably count as “wild”. Even in cases where street animals are being regularly fed by people, the animals are free to come and go as they please. People put up bird feeders, but I haven’t seen anyone trying to argue that a suet block or thistle sock makes woodpeckers and goldfinches any less wild.

(The local starling population, on the other hand, would probably fetch your slippers if they thought that it would get them a free meal.)


Feral dogs are feral dogs. In other words, they are wild.


My local sparrow flock has a range consisting of my back yard as far as I can tell, judging by how quickly they try to clear my feeders out


(I may have inadvertently marked this as “solved” for which I apologize. I am still seeking any thoughts re: sterilized dogs and cats being wild or not.)

I am asking because I have noted more than one observation in which it is noted that a callejero has been sterilized, pointing to this marker, and another person then marked the observation as “not wild”.

I know I have seen discussions about animals being free to propagate being a marker for wildness and I wondered if in this absence of ability, that was why these animals were being marked as not wild.

From the iNat FAQ, a feral dog/cat/animal would be considered “wild”. Whether or not it has previously been medically treated, if it is currently outside of the physical bounds of human care/intention it would be wild.


OK, then I am going to continue to counter the votes. Thank you!


I’m sorry, I marked it as solved because

is the correct answer to the question. I was trying to show that that was the right answer without adding another post to the thread. Sorry if that was premature.

On iNat, “wild” is not about whether an organism can reproduce or has become naturalized. See

Checking captive / cultivated means that the observation is of an organism that exists in the time and place it was observed because humans intended it to be then and there. Likewise, wild / naturalized organisms exist in particular times and places because they intended to do so (or because of intention of another wild organism).


No worries, I just always assume my thick thumbs bear responsibility. Thank you for bearing with me. :)

(Now I really did mark it solved.)

I agree. Sterilized dogs or cats released into the wild are wild. (Should they be released rather than euthanized? Well, nobody will listen to me anyway.) If somebody calls them “not wild” vote against them and explain why. If people often misinterpret your photos, keep a little paragraph of explanation and paste it into your notes or comments.


I’m not sure what practices are in Mexico, but in the US a lot of places practice “TNR” on (mainly) feral cats. Trap, neuter and release. Once cats are feral, it is very difficult to have them socialized with people so the best route is to trap them, neuter them so they can’t breed and spread disease, and then release them again. I consider them wild 100%, even though they’re often fed by people and otherwise have people looking out for them.

In summary though, lots of feral animals can be neutered and still be mainly independent and completely feral. In the US, at least. I assume it’s similar elsewhere.


Today I met a dog who was rescued from a puppy mill cage. Animal welfare organisations clip an ear to show - this one is done. Previous owners clipped her ear to prevent her being spayed and keep the puppy mill going for dog-fighting.
Now she is living a dog’s life in the best sense - long hikes on the mountain. One happy dog!


Unfortunately there is a strong preference here for “purebred” dogs (also tiny dogs), thus any purebred dogs are usually missing pets, pocket dogs too.

Thankfully there are civic organizations (and individuals) in addition to municipal programs stepping in to address the issue of the callejeros. Via adoption, sterilization and education programs, here at least the numbers of these animals are diminishing. Still any number greater than zero is too many.

Here are mine, both former callejeros, both of dubious parentage, both madly adored. (Both sterilized.)



Our cats have all been rescues (and sterilised)

They came from shelters except this pair. Henry on the left appeared on our doorstep as a tiny kitten (unwanted litter from a pedigreed Siamese?) When he reached the end of his life - he brought Chocolat home - you can have my place when I’m gone.


Well… technically there’s a better route but most people don’t seem to like it.

Cats especially are an inconvenience because they’re destructive. One of the primary goals with neutering them is to eventually limit the numbers. Ideally to 0 but with human negligence, I think we all know it probably will not happen. I know of an instance where a feral colony had shrunk to 1 cat due to TNR and a very educated person working with those cats to get to that point, and then some uneducated person allowed their unneutered cats out in the area. Then there was a sudden uptick since those cats had kittens and they all will go where the food is at so the colony grew again.

If everybody was on the same page, it would be a more effective practice but it works when people put the effort in. There’s just not nearly enough people doing that where it’s needed.


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