A draft ordinance that would prohibit feeding wild animals or feeding one’s own pets in a way that attracts wild animals was discussed at the council’s study session Monday. The ordinance is in response to what some residents see as an overpopulation of feral cats.
At Monday’s meeting, several individuals addressed the council to urge them to reconsider the feeding ban, which would counteract the more humane method of trap, neuter, return (TNR). A resident from Vandalia, Brenda Morris, disputed that cats are a problem in the city.
“If there’s a problem, people need to call the Montgomery County Animal Resource Center. They will have the animal neutered or spayed and released,” said Morris
Others who addressed the council were Deborah Smith and Jody Patton, co-founders of Calico TNR, of Springfield, who urged council to consider a TNR program.
“Feeding bans are counterproductive, as they undermine the only successful method of addressing the feral cat population, which is trap, neuter, return,” Smith said. “Feeding bans can actually increase calls to animal control, as cats will roam further to find food sources.”
Calico TNR has worked with multiple organizations, such as Clark County Human Society, the Clark County Sheriff’s Department, and Champagne County as well.
Council member Bob Ahlers said the biggest issue is leaving food out after dark, which is attracting other wild animals, such as raccoons, skunks, and coyotes.
Patton and Smith emphasized that their biggest goal is to educate residents by teaching them that leaving food out is an issue as well as tell them what they can do to combat the animal issues facing the community.
“Attracting the wild animals is what we are trying to prevent, more than anything,” said Dave Gerhard, a council member.
Mayor Arlene Setzer agreed.
“As of right now, we needed to do something rather quickly, to alert people that feeding outside after dark is not going to be permitted. We want to try to change how people feed.”
Smith and Patton asked if they could bring a group of willing citizens to a future meeting to organize a local TNR group.
“We are not equipped to organize that group of people and know what to do,so if there are some people here in Vandalia who are willing to take on the job you are doing, we would be most appreciative.”” said Setzer. “As we go down this road, we would certainly want to consider other methods.”
A first reading of the ordinance is expected at the March 20 council meeting. A second reading could come as early as April 3 and take effect 30 days later.