Las Vegas Sun

December 18, 2014

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Answers: Clark County:

Efforts to thin our feral cat population are purring along

Image

Tiffany Brown

Violet, a cat abandoned at Lied Animal Shelter because the owner “could not take care of her,” rests in a cage.

Chris Giunchigliani

Chris Giunchigliani

In October 2008, after hours of testimony, the Clark County Commission adopted an ordinance pushed by Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani that sought to gain control over the county’s out-of-control feral cat population. By law, cats could be trapped, neutered and vaccinated and returned to where they were found. The goal was to reduce newborns in stray/feral colonies and reduce overall numbers. Almost three years later, it appears the ordinance is working.

How can you tell?

Keith Williams, director of the nonprofit Community Cat Coalition of Clark County, which is operated with volunteers and donations — no taxpayer dollars — said the number of cats previously spayed and neutered that volunteers are finding is growing. Williams said the law requires colony caretakers to register with him. Currently, more than 360 registered colonies across the valley contain about 3,900 cats. Some were a colony of one, others had as many as 60 cats. Many of the colonies have had no kittens in several years and are shrinking because of normal mortality. At the same time, neighborhood complaints are decreasing. A 57-cat colony in North Las Vegas where trapping began almost two years ago has seen its population drop by about half in one year. The average life span of a feral cat is three to five years.

Williams is also seeing the number of sterilized cats in the field increase. For years, he said, the population of free-roaming sterilized cats was about 1 percent. But in the past six months, it’s jumped to 4 to 5 percent. “It tells us much more work needs to be done,” he said, adding that it also “shows we are going in the right direction.”

Why has it increased so much so recently?

Williams said the number of trappings has increased from about 50 per week last year to 100 per week this year. “So you’re trapping and spaying and neutering more ... the goal is to be sterilizing faster than they are breeding.” The “holy grail” of the program is to see a decrease in the number of cats captured and sent to animal shelters, where thousands are destroyed every year.

How can they identify a sterilized/vaccinated cat?

Their ears are tipped, which means about a quarter-inch is snipped as an identification marker.

About how many feral cats live in the valley?

Williams has lowered his estimate from 750,000 to 1 million of a few years ago to 250,000 to 300,000. “It’s still a huge number,” he said.

•••

Two former Las Vegas Review-Journal reporters made it through the primary election for local government seats last week. But the fate of one of them is undecided.

Who are the two “lucky” souls?

One is Tanya Flanagan, currently the Web content administrator for Clark County, who tied for second in the race for a seat on the North Las Vegas City Council. Flanagan and Linda Meisenheimer each won 328 votes and took second behind Pamela Goynes-Brown. Flanagan said she has until April 26 to decide whether to ask for a recount, which would cost $600. The other option is to break the tie by having Flanagan and Meisenheimer draw from a deck of cards with the seat going to the high-card picker.

Who is the other reporter?

Anita Weier, who moved to Madison, Wis., from Las Vegas 17 years ago. After working several years as an editor and reporter in that state’s capital, Weier ran for a vacated seat on Madison’s Common Council. She won the seat Tuesday with 58 percent of the vote.

•••

Click to enlarge photo

David Roger

Quote of the week

“It’s ironic that all of the county commissioners are Democrats, but they’re the ones who want budget cuts from a Republican district attorney, who won’t make them.”

— Overheard in the cafeteria in the Clark County Government Center, a day after a Las Vegas Sun story about the district attorney’s refusal to submit 9 percent budget cut ideas to the county manager.

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  1. Kudos to Mrs Gray. The valley is overrun with feral cats and something had to be done - but humanely - and she found a way. I applaud her.

  2. Feral cats are not cute and cuddly. More aggressive messures should be taken to control this problem. I like song birds and these cats are hurting the song bird population.

  3. " ...neutered and vaccinated and returned to where they were found."

    Apparently some feel that several hundred thousand cats with no one to feed them or care for them, roaming all over eating what ever scraps, birds or vermin they can catch, possible diseased and able to infect those they come in contact with is preferable to just putting them down.

    There is a large filthy white cat that invades my patio even though it is walled off and sleeps on my patio furniture. When I enter the patio it hisses at me and eventually runs away. I have never done anything to hurt it or encourage it to come. No food, no water and no garbage but I can't keep it out. It is ruining the cushions on the chairs.

    I guess I will obtain a legal trap and turn it over to the animal control facility to be put down. I sure don't want it coming back or to take a chance with the grandkids when they come over.

    Leaving a cat to fend for itself in the city is not compassionate, it's dangerous and irresponsible.

  4. Hmmm.... I have a friend who is in the business of testing the squashing power of car tires. I will have to ask him to read this article.