NEWFANE, N.Y. (WIVB) - A plan to sweep a local beach clean of feral cats is sparking outrage in Niagara County.
It seems like a simple question: What's to be done with the feral cats overwhelming Olcott Beach? But as it turns out, there is no simple answer.
Residents, animal advocates and the Newfane Town Board are at odds about how to get the feral cat population under control. The town's plan to simply trap and remove the cats is ineffective, according to rescuers.
"And they're just going to have to do this over and over and over again, several times a year, year after year at taxpayer expense. And it's just not an effective way to solve the problem," said Carol Tutzauer, president of the Buffalo Humane Society.
Instead, animal advocates want to set up a "managed colony," where volunteers would trap the cats, spay or neuter and vaccinate them, then release the animals back to the beach.
Edie Offhaus of Feral Cats Focus said, "The caregiver is constantly looking to see any new cats that have come into an area, they're looking to see if there's any litter of kittens that has slipped by them, they're looking to manage and make sure the cats are fed on a regular basis at a certain time, at a certain place."
But taxpayers don't want to pay for the cats care. Moreover, they argue a colony won't solve the main problem.
"It's also hurting our businesses, our marina, our boaters. It's driving people away," said Newfane Town Supervisor Timothy Horanburg.
With too many pros and cons up in the air, there will be more talking before a decision is made.
Horanburg said, "Right now, I think it's a discussion between the town board and the group of volunteers, see what the options are out there and see where we can go."
Aside from the cost, there are a couple of other major obstacles to building a managed cat colony at Olcott Beach. One of them is a well-known hoarder who is constantly leaving food out for the cats. The other is people constantly coming to the beach to dump more strays.
The feral cat problem has become such a pandemic, volunteers aren't even sure at this point how many there are roaming the beach.
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