Feral cats: New Milford looks to ‘trap and return’

After warning residents against feeding feral cats, New Milford Borough is looking at another option.
Mark Richards, a volunteer for the Humane Society, told borough council Thursday, Oct. 6, that he received about 40 emails after their letter was sent out.
As a Humane Society volunteer, Richards only investigates reports of animal cruelty in Susquehanna County.
“The answer is not ‘stop feeding,’” he said, “The answer is trap and return.”
In a trap and return program, the cats are trapped, taken to be spayed or neutered, receive a rabies vaccination; and then returned to the same location.
The cats in the colony will then not reproduce he said, but live out the remainder of their lives in that place. Due to illness, accident and injury, the life expectancy of a feral cat is about three years, Richards said. “That’s why (trap and return) works.”
If cats are moved to a different location, other cats will move into the area to form a new colony. And if feeding is stopped, Richards said the cats would likely start getting into garbage cans.
“The colony has to remain where it is,” Richards said. Over time, as the cats are fixed and vaccinated, the population goes down, he said.
“People are concerned about the safety of these creatures,” Councilwoman Kathy Wages said.
But, as had been reported by council members at a prior meeting, some people are putting the food in the streets. “We don’t want that,” Richards said.
“Feeders come in handy. Then we know where the cats are,” he said.
A woman – who manages the feral cat colony in Clifford Twp. – said there were initially 12 cats; eight of them were fixed and the colony is now down to four cats.
Feral cats are not just a problem in New Milford and Clifford, other colonies are reported to exist in Hallstead and Kingsley.
Richards said there are grants available to help with the program and he has had success obtaining those grants for other communities.
Council received a proposal for renovations to the bathhouse at the Blue Ridge Park. The facility, located near the town pool, will be updated this fall.
Council members expressed concern over the condition of the restrooms following the use of the park by a group the weekend prior to the meeting.
Photographs of the facilities were taken and council members plan to address the situation with the user.
Council accepted a proposal to have a company open and close the poll in 2017. The work will include the chemicals required to start the pool in the summer and winterizing and installing the pool cover at the end of the season.
A website for the borough is in development by council.
Santa in the Park is scheduled to be held Saturday, Nov. 26, 11 a.m.-1 p.m.
The Halloween Parade of Lights is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 29. Line up is at 6 p.m.; with the parade stepping off at 6:30 p.m.

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