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Fort Macleod proceeds with work on problem cats

The Canadian Animal Task Force will be contracted to identify the number of problem cats in Fort Macleod.

Council voted last week to moved forward with the task force’s trap, neuter and return program.

“I think it’s a good next step,” Coun. David Orr said. “I appreciate the work that’s been done.”

Coun. Marco Van Huigenbos agreed.

“I’m definitely interested to see what they come back with,” Van Huigenbos said.

Town of Fort Macleod director of community and protective services Liisa Gillingham made a presentation to council during its June 22 meeting at the G.R. Davis Administration Building.

Gillingham told council 24 people turned out for a public meeting in March and 84 responded to an on-line survey.

Action on the cat issue was stalled due to the COVID-19 pandemic which hit in March.

Gillingham told council a door-to-door canvass is needed to help pinpoint areas in town where there are large numbers of feral cats.

The survey responses helped with that and RJ  Rideout of the Canadian Animal Task Force was in town on his own to search out some locations.

There is still a need for the task force to conduct a door-to-door canvass.

“I think it’s more about getting an actual estimated number at this point and kind of figuring out the logistics of it,” Gillingham said.

The Town of Fort Macleod would only be responsible for travelling costs incurred by the Calgary-based task force.

“This is really just to find out how big the financial obligation would be and they would really be out on the ground looking at these areas to get some really good numbers,” Gillingham said.

Once an estimate is made of the feral and wild cats, the town will know what it will cost to have the animals trapped, neutered or spayed and released.

Rideout told the audience at the March meeting that sterilization eventually reduces the number of stray and feral cats in a community.

Rideout said simply removing the cats creates a vacuum in a community that is quickly filled by new cats.

The association works with 35 Alberta organizations to find homes for the stray and feral cats when appropriate.

Typically, the task force’s volunteers, which include veterinarians, set up in a town to trap, spay or neuter, tattoo and release up to 500 animals over two days.

The COVID-19 pandemic would prevent the team from setting up a mobile veterinary station to neuter and spay the cats.

Instead, the cats would be trapped, taken to Calgary for neutering and spaying, and then returned to Fort Macleod.

“He (Rideout) didn’t believe that would be an overly large impact to the cost,” Gillingham said. “It’s easier because the stations are already set up and ready to go in Calgary. It’s a permanent location.”

Coun. Kristi Edwards suggested having the task force partner with local veterinary clinics for the spay and neuter service to save the travel to Calgary.

Gillingham will discuss that idea with Rideout but noted the Calgary facility is set up with 20 vet stations so the work can be done quickly.

Van Huigenbos said steps need to be taken to prevent the recurrence of a large feral cat population.

“We have to look at responsible cat ownership as part of the solution,” Van Huigenbos said. “Otherwise we’re not fixing the problem, were just reacting.”

Gillingham said the trap, neuter and return program is a great way to slow the growth of the feral cat population.

Gillingham said feral cats and pet cats that are allowed to wander are separate issues but agreed the town does need to address the latter.

“There does need to be some community education on responsible pet ownership,” Gillingham added.

1 Comments For This Post

  1. Dave Carlson Says:

    They should start at the waste transfer site. a major breeding ground