“I have a problem with feral cats. Can you help me?”
This question came up recently, and has in the past as well. A fellow was talking to me the other day about a trailer park he manages. The tenants, as kind hearted and good intentioned as they may be, were letting cats go wild left and right.
“They pick up strays, but don’t have the means to take care of them. Then the cats go wild as they search for food. The males begin fighting over territories and will spray everywhere. Sometimes on people’s porches or sides of their trailers. They get in trash, under trailers and rip down insulation, and defecate everywhere.”
Typically, the local Animal Control Officer is responsible for handling issues with domesticated animals. There appeared to be some contention, or possible misunderstanding, between the landlord and the Town in this situation.
Animal Control Officers (ACO) are mandated by the State, and on your town’s payroll, to specifically handle domestic animal issues.
Animal Damage Control (ADC), like myself, are licensed and regulated by the state. However, we only handle wildlife calls, and work as private entities.
Folks natural get confused since the terminology and acronyms are so similar. I wrote previously about this topic here. Back to the cats though, I reached out my personal local ACO to try and get some ideas. The solution was deceptively simple.
The State of Maine employs a statewide Animal Welfare program. The primary focus of the program is handling animal welfare and abuse complaints. However, they are willing to step in and assist if typical channels are not helping to resolve the issue.
“Contact your local ACO one more time, issuing a written complaint. If nothing happens after that, contact Animal Welfare and they should be able to step in and help you with the feral cats.” Even though I’m not authorized to handle domestic animals, it’s always nice to help point folks in the right direction.
A Brief Word About Saving and Killing Cats:
As an ADC agent, I deal with wildlife. I don’t generally get directly involved with domestic issues. However, I am familiar with feral cat problems and how they relate to wildlife concerns. Please keep in mind, this blog is not meant to serve as a platform to argue. I would like to present a couple common concerns folks have.
Feral cats and their control are a controversial issue. Often the problems stem from a lack of people being responsible. Then the native wildlife suffers. The ecosystems suffer. The cats suffer. Eventually it ironically comes back around to people again who suffer.
Trap-Neuter-Release programs are hailed as a great way to curb rising populations of cats. They fail to address the already high impacts of cats gone feral, which are an invasive species, on native wildlife populations.
Euthanasia is a humane alternative to cats dying of illness, sickness, disease, cars, or wild predation. However, you would need a massive eradication campaign to bring cat numbers down enough to restore balance in the population.
While I often don’t fully agree with Peta, I did come across a rather unbiased and well written report on the concerns of the Trap-Neuter-Release program. The report fully acknowledges the positives and pitfalls of the program, while remaining surprisingly unbiased and only mildly emotional.
If I could only fault them in one area, it’s that they don’t put enough emphasis on individual responsibility to care for cats correctly in the first place. Until that issue is addressed and corrected, the controversy will continue, and no one will win.
Below is the original blog post the downloadable report came from.
While Maine Wildlife Management does not directly handle domestic issues, we are willing to help folks out anytime they are having animal problems. Give us a call today if you have questions or concerns that are not being addressed. We can get you the help you need, or help answer your questions.
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