Another state lawmaker seeks to control feral cat population

Feb 5 2011 - 12:45am

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Curt Oda
Curt Oda

SALT LAKE CITY -- Another Utah legislator wants the state to set new guidelines for controlling the feral cat population.

Sen. Dennis E. Stowell, R-Parowan, said Friday that Senate Bill 57 would let municipalities set rules for a trap-neuter-return program.

His bill, proposed Thursday, comes just weeks after Republican Rep. Curt Oda, of Clearfield, proposed legislation to legalize the humane shooting and killing of feral cats.

Stowell's measure was in the works before Oda's bill, the state senator said, and the proposals do not conflict.

"I have no problem with Representative Oda's bill. Both bills can pass," said Stowell, who worked with the Best Friends Animal Society of Kanab to draft the bill.

Under current laws, county shelters are required to hold feral cats -- those with no sign of ownership -- for three days before euthanizing them. Stowell's proposal would bypass the three-day holding period and allow feral cats to be immediately eligible for a trap-neuter-return program.

"This would allow us to control feral cat populations by trapping feral cat colonies and sterilizing, vaccinating and clipping them so they can be returned to the colonies," Stowell said. "It would apply mostly to cities with large groups of feral cats, and people cannot use guns to shoot them."

In contrast, he said Oda's bill is mainly focused on individual feral cats, not colonies, that carry diseases or attack people.

Oda's House Bill 210, which was introduced last month, endorses the humane killing of feral animals, pests and rodents.

He said a humane killing would be any method that causes the least amount of suffering.

Shooting is singled out as an acceptable method in his bill, but Oda said other means that would be allowed include using a bow and arrow, clubbing or decapitating some animals.

Animal-rights groups say Oda's bill is an inhumane approach to the feral cat problem.

"Whether you love or hate feral cats, the trap-neuter-and-return program is the only way to deal with them," said Holly Sizemore, interim Director of Community Programs and Services at Best Friends Animal Society.

"Many of these feral cats are being cared for by good Samaritans, and they are a part of our community."

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