Possible Solution To Norfolk’s Feral Cat Issue

Norfolk is finally ready to try something to get the county’s feral cat population under control.
Norfolk council this week agreed to divide $50,000 between two groups that are prepared to trap feral cats, neuter them, and release them into managed colonies if they can’t be socialized into a home.
The Simcoe & District Humane Society says there are tens of thousands of homeless cats in Norfolk. With each feral female capable of producing four litters a year, that number can only go up. The issue has taken on new urgency since several people in Haldimand have been exposed to rabies in recent months after coming in contact with infected cats.
Norfolk has received unsolicited proposals from the Simcoe humane society and Norfolk PAWS. Each has a different approach to the problem. PAWS says it can do the job at a cost of $75 per animal while the local humane society cites $35 per animal.
Sandi Fettes of Simcoe, spokesperson for Norfolk PAWS, says trap, neuter, adopt or release programs have the potential to reduce the number of homeless cats in the wild. The program also reduces the risk of rabies gaining a foothold in this population by increasing “herd immunity.”
“Every single cat we fix has to be vaccinated for rabies,” Fettes said. “That’s not an option. That’s the law.”
Norfolk included $50,000 for feral cat control in its 2016 operating budget but could not find a qualified contractor. The $50,000 was carried over into the 2017 budget.
Chris Baird, Norfolk’s general manager of development and culture, will draw up comparable agreements with PAWS and the humane society. Baird’s department will provide an update on how the program is going after six months and immediately before the 2018 budget talks.
As the 5-3 vote indicates, not everyone on council is convinced trap, neuter and release is a good idea.
“Trap them, neuter them and find them a home,” said Waterford Coun. Harold Sonnenberg. “But do not release them back into the wild. If we do that, are we any better than the people who threw them out by the road in the first place? Why would we do that?”
After eight years of debate however, council is in the mood to try something.
“We’ve been debating this for years and haven’t made any headway,” said Port Dover Coun. John Wells. “Let’s not shelve it again.”
Source: Simcoe Reformer/Monte Sonnenberg
Photo: keyword-suggestions.com

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