Casper open to feral cat spay and neuter program if third party can find funding - Casper, WY Oil City News
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Casper open to feral cat spay and neuter program if third party can find funding

(Image by Andrea Guerrero from Pixabay)

CASPER, Wyo. — The Casper City Council have been discussing proposed changes to the city’s animal care and control ordinance during recent meetings.

The proposed changes include prohibiting the feeding of non-domesticated animals and feral cats. During the council’s Tuesday, July 14 work session, Casper Police Chief Keith McPheeters noted that city staff met with a group of citizens who thought the city should instead implement a trap, spay or neuter and release program to manage feral cat populations rather than banning the feeding of feral cats.

McPheeters said that Metro Animal Services see the benefit of a trap, spay or neuter and release program, but that such a program may be to cost prohibitive for the city to afford at this time.

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He said that in 2019, Metro captured 941 cats and that the “vast majority of those were feral cats.” McPheeters said that a large percentage of the feral cats were ultimately euthanized.

He said that if all of the cats would have been spayed or neutered, the veterinarian fees alone would have been approximately $90,000, noting that this does not account for labor costs associated with trapping the animals or the cost that would come from caring for the cats until they have healed from spaying or neutering procedures.

McPheeters said that “we agree 100% that [a trap, spay or neuter and release program] is an effective tool” but that it “does come with significant budgetary concerns.”

He added that Metro sees a ban on feeding cats and spaying and neutering programs both as effective tools for limiting feral cat populations. McPheeters said the ultimate goal is to cut down on the number of feral cats that wind up being euthanized.

He added that the City of Cheyenne works with a charitable organization that helps fund a trap, spay or neuter and release program, adding that he thinks this program has been helpful to Cheyenne but that it doesn’t fully solve the feral cat problem.

McPheeters said that if a charitable organization was able to provide funding for a similar program in Casper, he and Metro would be open to a relationship of that kind.

Councilman Steve Cathey asked whether it would be permissible to allow such an organization to capture feral cats themselves and conduct the spaying and neutering so that Metro would not have to dedicate resources to the program.

McPheeters said that the he thought Metro needed to retain the authority to trap animals since there is a potential that someone could seize pet cats rather than feral cats by mistake and spay or neuter them against the will of the pet owner.

McPheeters said that while a spay and neuter program funded with support from a charitable organization would be a good idea, in the meantime he’d like to see the ban on feeding feral cats move forward.

He said that Metro recently responded to a request from a person who has been feeding feral cats who became overwhelmed when more and more feral cats kept coming for food.

McPheeters added that feral cats can be a nuisance and do cause damage.

Casper Animal Protection Officer Tiffany Hyde told the council that in the last 4-5 days, she has responded to calls to pick up seven baby raccoons that had become ill and were in people’s yards. She said that the feeding of feral cats can also attract animals like raccoons and skunks.

Wyoming Game & Fish Department Casper Regional Wildlife Management Coordinator Justin Binfet, who earlier during the work session told the council that the feeding of deer and wild turkey is a widespread problem in the Casper area, spoke again after McPheeters and Metro officers spoke.

Binfet said that prior to the conversation, he wasn’t aware how big of a problem feral cats have been in Casper. He said that feral cats can be a “huge concern for wildlife populations” around the world, noting that they are predators which threaten endangered species in some areas.

He said that he understood the dilemma the Casper Police Department and Metro were facing and that Game & Fish would support whatever form of recourse they see necessary to address the problem. Binfet also took the opportunity to note that he would go before the Natrona County Commissioners next week to ask them to support a ban on feeding certain wildlife in the county.

Vice Mayor Khrystyn Lutz said that while feral cats may be the more widespread problem in the area, she thought the council should also ban the feeding of feral dogs.

Council agreed that they would like to see feral dogs added to the list of animals that would be prohibited from feeding under the proposed ordinance changes.

The council have not yet taken up a formal reading of the proposed changes. City Attorney John Henley will implement the council’s direction from Tuesday’s meeting into the version that council will take up for consideration.

As it pertains to the proposed feeding ban, the council indicated they support banning the feeding of non-domestic animals and feral cats and dogs. Exceptions are expected for birds, squirrels, rabbits, and fowl like ducks and geese.

The feeding ban is just one aspect of a number of changes the council will consider adopting under the proposed ordinance.

If you would like to contact members of the Casper City Council regarding this or any other issue, here is their contact information:

Mayor Steve Freel (Ward III, Term expires 1/3/23):

Vice Mayor Khrystyn Lutz (Ward I, Term expires 1/3/23):

Councilman Charlie Powell (Ward II, Term Expires 1/5/21):

Councilman Shawn Johnson (Ward II, Term expires 1/3/23):

Councilman Ken Bates (Ward II, Term expires 1/5/21):

Councilman Steve Cathey (Ward III, Term Expires 1/5/21):

Councilman Bob Hopkins (Ward I, Term expires 1/5/21):

Councilman Mike Huber (Ward I, Term expires 1/5/21):

Councilman Ray Pacheco (Ward III, Term expires 1/3/23):

Council members can also be reached by mail at: 200 N. David Street, 82601

If you would like to contact members in your specific ward, but don’t know which ward you are in, a map is available at the City of Casper’s website.