By Michael Regan
The Tonawanda News
Tonawanda News — North Tonawanda may become the first municipality in Niagara County to counteract what officials feel is a growing feral cat problem.
SPCA of Niagara Director Amy Lewis spoke with the council during a work session Tuesday to lay out options to address the issue, which was in part spurred in March by the discovery of a Roncroff Drive home, where 49 cats were living in poor conditions.
Lewis told council members that the first step in addressing the issue is to begin collecting data on where feral cats may be living in the city, which can be conducted by documenting information retrieved from residents as well as information from the SPCA’s own employees, who drive to the city several times a month on average to pick up animals.
“This is the direction we would need to go to track problem areas,” Lewis said. “We do it geographically.”
In a process that could take several months, the SPCA would then move to bring in grant money from mostly large corporations such as Petco to spay and neuter the animals. The city will first need to collect the data before the SPCA can apply for the grants.
“The goal is to bring the population down,” said Rich Andres, council president.
Lewis said while the SPCA of Niagara installed a no kill policy in 2011 for animals under its purview, it is working on bringing in its own mobile spade and neuter program to the county, though that initiative is still months away.
She added that of the 50 cats collected from the home at 155 Roncroff Drive last month, the majority of them appeared to have been born from only two or three cats.
“They were almost all orange,” she told the council. “This could have been prevented.”
The city may use signage, the Internet and a volunteer base to spread the word on the initiative. Lewis said each community her organization covers is different as far as the size and scope of animals.
“I would imagine you have several small pockets and some large areas as well,” she said. “But addressing this benefits us both. You don’t have a cat problem and we don’t have kittens from your cat problems.”
In other council news:
• In a special session the council voted unanimously to end winter parking bans a few days early. Effectively immediately, vehicles will be permitted to park on city streets. The normal end to the ban is April 15.
• Greg Doel and Larry Denef, both of whom organized Weekends on Webster, a concert series held last summer, presented this year’s pitch for the cover-band events. The duo said they would like to hold four events in July and August.Contact reporter Michael Regan at 693-1000, ext. 4115.