Feral cat issue festers at Trailer Estates, Manatee County commissioner says

skennedy@bradenton.comFebruary 1, 2014 

MANATEE -- A feral cat spat at Trailer Estates continues, with various plans for controlling the feline population still under consideration, according to a county official.

"From what I gather, they want the county to come up with a different plan, different than what we do with our 'Trap, neuter and return' (policy)," said Manatee County Commissioner Robin DiSabatino, in whose district the 1,277-home retirement community is located.

"We're working with them to initiate that program, we're also working with them to move the food source away from the residents," she said.

"We're also trying to work with the residents who feed the cats to maybe wean them, and they will naturally search elsewhere for food," she added.

However, some of the residents apparently prefer a more invasive plan, a more aggressive plan, "which we won't do," DiSabatino said.

County officials will not

take the cats elsewhere and will not support inhumane treatment of any animal, she emphasized.

While the county will not condone residents taking the problem into their own hands illegally, they are free to hire professional animal trappers if they choose, DiSabatino said.

"They own the problem," DiSabatino said. "If they don't want so many cats there, they have to come up with a plan; it's not up to the local government to foot the bill for their community issue. It wouldn't be fair to other taxpayers."

Asked what she had heard about the issue, Trailer Estates resident Geraldine Stoner replied, "All I've heard is nasty rumors; I haven't heard any facts."

Clark Rotroff, who has been feeding feral cats, and still has five of them, said he hopes for a humane solution.

"As long as the cats don't get hurt, and they're not starving, I'm for whatever works," he said.

His neighbors have complained that the feline colony has gotten out of control, and that their yards are littered with cat feces, the Herald has previously reported.

Manatee County officials, under a no-kill policy adopted in 2011, trap the animals, neuter or spay them, and then release them again where they were found. Eventually, the colony will die out, but it might take awhile, Manatee County Animal Services officials have said. The no-kill policy's purpose is to try to halt the killing of animals in the county's care under a formal resolution and plan approved by the county commission. A trustee's meeting is slated for Monday where the feral cat issue may come up again, DiSabatino said.

Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7031. Follow her on Twitter @sarawrites.

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