CASPER, Wyo. — The City of Casper’s proposed ban on feeding feral cats has garnered the attention of Alley Cat Allies, an organization which refers to itself as “the global engine of change for cats.”
Alley Cat Allies said in a Tuesday, Aug. 4 press release that they are “demanding that the Casper, Wyoming, City Council immediately table a proposed ban for the feeding of feral cats and instead focus on humane management of the city’s cat population.”
The Casper City Council are set to consider proposed changes to the city’s Animal Care and Control Ordinance, which would include a ban on feeding feral cats and dogs as well as some wildlife, on second reading during their Tuesday, Aug. 4 meeting.
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A group of citizens in Casper have also asked the city council to reconsider the proposed feral cat feeding ban and instead seek to implement a trap, spay or neuter and release program to deal with the feral cat population in the city. The citizens asked the council to table their consideration of the ordinance on first reading, though the council moved ahead with their vote.
Alley Cat Allies President and Founder Becky Robinson explained the organization’s opposition to the proposed feeding ban in Tuesday’s release.
“Feeding bans have proven to be failed policy and practice after decades of unsuccessful attempts in cities and towns everywhere,” she said. “Even if caregivers are not ‘allowed’ to feed cats, the cats will still be attracted to other food in the area. They will not just miraculously go away, and as they roam farther to find food, they will actually become more visible. This will lead to increased calls to local authorities and animal control in the City of Casper.”
Alley Cat Allies also says that feeding bans can interfere with trap, spay or neuter and release programs, which they call “the only humane and effective approach to outdoor cat populations.”
“If caregivers are prohibited from feeding, they have a more difficult time trapping cats, which ultimately leads to fewer cats being spayed, neutered and vaccinated,” Robinson said in the release. Casper could well end up with more cats because of such a misguided law.”
Police Chief Keith McPheeters said during the city council’s July 14 work session that the Casper Police Department and Metro Animal Services see a trap, spay or neuter and release program as an effective tool to address feral cat populations.
However, he noted that such a program could come with considerable cost to the city. 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.
If all of the feral cats had been spayed or neutered, McPheeters said it would have cost about $90,000 in veterinarian bills, not to mention the added cost of caring for the cats while they heal from the procedures.
McPheeters said that both a ban on feeding feral cats and a trap, spay or neuter and release program would be effective. He noted that the City of Cheyenne partners with an outside organization to help fund a trap, spay or neuter and release program.
Wyoming Game & Fish Department Casper Regional Wildlife Management Coordinator Justin Binfet also attended the meeting and said the the department supports the Casper PD and Metro’s efforts to address the feral cat problem.
“We support getting some kind of handle on the feral cat issue,” Binfet said. “Feral cats are of increasing concern across the country and frankly across the world.”
Binfet said that feral cats kill large numbers of birds and threaten some endangered species.
The group of Casper citizens who opposed the feral cat feeding ban said they were working to try to help facilitate a partnership similar to how Cheyenne funds a trap, spay or neuter and release program and asked that the council give them time to demonstrate the feasibility of such a program in Casper.
Alley Cate Allies say they delivered a letter to the City of Casper on Aug. 3 expressing their opposition to the feral cat feeding ban.