from today's Herald
Action group takes on feral cat issue
Animal welfare activists will lobby for trap, neuter and return program
By GORDON DELANEY Valley BureauSun. Sep 20 - 4:45 AM
Several animal welfare groups have joined forces to lobby Kings County council to adopt a more humane method of dealing with feral cats.
"These groups have all been at cross-purposes in the past, but they’ve decided to come together to lobby council to change the bylaws, which at the moment make a trap, neuter and return program illegal," said Rick Ackland, chairman of the newly formed Cat Action Team.
The team is comprised of volunteers from the Kings branch of the SPCA, the Wolfville and Area Animal Group, the Homeless Animal Rescue Team in Aylesford and Safe Haven in Berwick.
It also includes many individuals who have been working to help stray cats.
The Cat Action Team wants county council to adopt a trap, neuter and return program or a spay and neuter assistance program, said Mr. Ackland.
"The bylaws, as they stand, are kind of ill-thought-out because they don’t allow people to try to assist by trapping and neutering and returning cats," said Mr. Ackland, who practised law for 30 years in Scotland before returning to Nova Scotia.
"The only solution the county has ever had was to euthanize them."
Animal welfare advocates estimate there are at least 55,000 feral cats in the county. Council has been dealing with the problem for years, but with little success.
The advocates say spaying and neutering the cats and returning them controls and sometimes reduces the population.
"There’s all kinds of empirical evidence all over the world that shows these programs work," Mr. Ackland said in an interview Friday. "The only way to reduce the population is by returning animals that are infertile."
He said each of the animal welfare groups, along with individual volunteers, have spent tens of thousands of dollars a year running their own spay and neuter programs.
"There are a lot of people voluntarily paying to have cats spayed and neutered and returned, all from their own pockets," said Mr. Ackland.
But that means hard work and constant fundraising.
"We have to do something different," he said. "These people are kind of tired and worn out, and some have become very disheartened because of the enormity of work to be done and they can’t do it."
Some groups are spending $40,000 a year to deal with the feral cat population.
"The one group that’s not playing a role is the county," Mr. Ackland said. "In fact, their bylaws are an actual impediment, because theoretically they could prosecute people for taking feral cats, neutering and returning them."
Annapolis County already has a successful trap, neuter and return program.
Mr. Ackland said the animal control people for the county are on side and will make a presentation to council in support of the Cat Action Team’s proposal at its committee of the whole meeting on Sept. 22.
The Cat Action Team estimates a successful program would cost the county about $50,000 a year.
Judging by the comments posted about this article, funding isn't the only problem with TNR. At the risk of sounding like a stuck record, there is a real need for a province wide information program.
If you live in Kings County and would like the Municipal Councillors to know that this is an issue of real importance to you as a voter, Click Here to send a message to all Councillors
Fifty thousand might sound like a lot of money, but it represents roughly one percent of the county operating budget for the year. It really needs to be thought of as an investment. The old catch and kill approach simply flushes good money after bad as successive populations of ferals are attracted to the same environments.