Shelter wants to trap/sterilize/release Biloxi's feral cat colonies

By Danielle Thomas - bio | email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Biloxi could soon have help keeping the size of colonies of wild cats down in a way that does not hurt the animals. On Tuesday, the Humane Society of South Mississippi is scheduled to go before the city council. Shelter officials are seeking permission to run a program in Biloxi they say will reduce the population of feral cats at no expense to the city.

Back in early 2005, WLOX shot footage of hundreds of wild cats living near the Popp's Ferry Bridge in Biloxi. Four years later, city officials say the colony is still around and continues to grow.

"We have an issue of feral cats in the area by the Popp's Ferry Bridge," said Vincent Creel, Biloxi spokesperson. "This has been for years. There has been an actual cat colony there of wild or feral cats. What exacerbates the situation is that people who are trying to be humane about it who are feeding these cats. What we're are looking to do is deal with this issue in a humane manner, so of course, we called the Humane Society. "

Humane Society of South Mississippi officials say traps could help Biloxi get a handle on its feral cat population.

"The animals are trapped very humanely, brought into our clinic where they are examined by a licensed veterinarian," said Bonnie Miller of the Humane Society of South Mississippi. "If they are found to be healthy, then we do go ahead and vaccinate them for rabies as well as alter them, so they won't produce any more feral, stray cats."

The Humane Society has received grant money to trap and sterilize the cats, then release the ones that aren't fit for adoption back into the colony. Officials say research has the method to reduce the number of feral cats over time.

Miller said, "The cats will maintain a level equal to the food source. By allowing no more kittens to be born into the colony, then you have a stable source that remains healthy. Eventually the colony will reduce in size for just the natural life of the cats."

"Some people may say, 'Well, if you are going to catch them, why are you then going to release the cats?' What research has shown in other communities is that if you start removing cats from these colonies, other cats will join the colonies," said Creel. "So what this is, is a long term solution to this problem."

Shelter officials say if the Biloxi Council approves the trap-neuter-release program, the first step would be to identify areas where the feral cat colonies are living. They say they'll need the public's help to do that.

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