OTTAWA — On Monday, members of Ottawa’s village council continued
discussions on a subject that has plagued other nearby communities:
feral cats and how to deal with the issue. For months, village personnel
have received complaints about a flourishing feral cat population on
the village’s west side, an area estimated at roughly six square miles.
While the topic of a number of council discussions, no clear plan to
address the problem had yet to develop. To that end, council invited
local veterinarian Dr. Ron Baldridge to weigh in on the problem.
done a little bit of research on how other communities have dealt with
it, what’s worked and what hasn’t,” Baldridge told council. “What it
boils down to, I think you really only have one choice from a public
relations stand-point as well as devising a program to get things under
control. What works best is TNR: Trap, Neuter and Return.”
a TNR program, feral animals are trapped in live traps and ferried to a
nearby facility where they are neutered. They are then returned to
where they were trapped and released.
“The reason this works,”
Baldridge said, “is that cats are territorial. So if you take and
sterilize cats in a given area, they maintain a perimeter. What happens
then is that they’ll keep other cats away. If you just capture and
euthanize, you take that cat out and two others come in and set up a
territory. You take one cat out of Ottawa, you’re going to get one or
two back in.”
In addition to ultimately resolving a feral cat
overpopulation problem, Baldridge said that neutering also eliminates
those behaviors that make feral cats such a nuisance: fighting, marking
and mating vocalizations.
Having said that, Baldridge described
TNR as a “never ending program”, an effort of years. Citing a Tufts
University study, Baldridge told council, once 35 percent of the
population is sterilized through a constant and consistent program, the
population will have stabilized within 11 years.
“You’re going to
see an immediate effect,” Baldridge added. “But, again, don’t think it’s
something your going to do for three months and it’s going to fix the
Addressing the economic side of the issue, Baldridge
said that TNR is cheaper than euthanization and that there are a number
of grants available from animal rights and humane organizations to help
offset costs. He estimated, given his clinic’s personnel’s decision to
donate their time, neuters at $30 per animal and spays at $50.
part of the program, Baldridge advised council about the need for
ordinances advising the public that should their cat be trapped, it will
be sterilized. These ordinances, Baldridge said, protect the village
and the veterinarians from legal action.
“I spent my whole Sunday
afternoon reading about cats,” Council President David Michel said.
“Everything I read goes right along with what you’re saying. There’s
nobody that recommends euthanizing cats. They all say this is the
program that in the long run works.”
That opinion wasn’t shared by
all. Councilor Troy Yant expressed skepticism about the program,
particularly about the length of time it would take to fully address the
“The landowner, the homeowner that wants them off their property still has an 11-year problem, a 15-year problem,” Yant argued.
not going to live that long,” Baldridge responded. “You’ll lose 30
percent of them here. In short order, you’re going to start seeing
somewhat of a decline.”
After a lengthy discussion about the
particulars of such a program — who could trap, the necessity of
ordinances, the availability of funding from outside sources — Baldridge
reiterated the need for communication.
“Make sure the public
knows what you’re doing,” Baldridge said. “Make sure they know that if
they let their cats run, there’s a chance it’s going to be operated on.”
In other business, council:
• accepted the resignation of firefighter Jeff Grismore, effective March 13.
• accepted the resignation of Public Works Operator Matt Wiechert, effective March 17.
• authorized advertising for a public works operator.
discussed, without immediate action, the Putnam County YMCA’s continued
management of Memorial Pool, as well as the pool’s hours of operation.
The next regular meeting of the Ottawa Village Council is scheduled for Monday, March 27, at 8 p.m. in the village offices.