MANATEE -- The Trailer Estates Board of Trustees voted to hire a professional trapper to solve the community feral cat problem, an official said Wednesday.
Some residents at the 1,277-home retirement community have complained a colony of wild cats has become a nuisance, while others fed or adopted the cats.
The Board of Trustees at the community at 1903 69th Ave. W. voted Monday to hire a professional trapper, but it had not yet contracted with anyone, said Chairwoman Lenora Neal.
"The trapper is supposed to be a humane person," said Neal. "He doesn't kill them. He tries to find good places for them. Either he will take them to the county (animal shelter), or locations of people that take them in -- that's what we've been told."
"This is what the residents seemed to want, so we're kind of guided by what people wanted to do," she added.
However, the president of a local nonprofit that specializes in resolving such difficulties, was dubious about claims the trapper would not kill the cats.
"I don't know what the trapper can do with them, except to kill them, unless the trapper has some property," said Audrey Garrison,
president of the Gulf Shore Animal League, which aids people with a "trap-neuter-return" method to control feral cat overpopulation.
"And if he dumps them on the property, I think that's animal cruelty," Garrison said. "I'm not exactly sure what you would do to a feral cat, except to kill it."
Trailer Estates, she said, is "a bit of an anomaly."
"We haven't had anybody in this county that cruel -- this is the first time we've had anybody so cruel, they'd do this on this scale," said Garrison.
Manatee County Commissioner Robin DiSabatino, who has been working with Trailer Estates residents, said she was glad to hear the board had taken charge of the matter.
"I appreciate them all working together," she said of the parties who have been at odds over a solution.
Manatee County Public Safety Director Ron Koper said: "I think they've got every right how they want to deal with the issue. We've been down there and offered suggestions how to manage issues they're facing there."
County animal services employees are willing to assist them, but they've chosen to go a different way, he said.
"What's unclear is, what is the trapper going to do with the cats?" Koper said.
If the trapper were to drop them off at county animal shelters, they would just be returned to Trailer Estates under the county's no-kill policy, he noted.
Under a no-kill policy adopted in 2011, such animals are trapped, neutered or spayed, then returned to where they were found. Eventually, the colony dies out.
The policy's purpose is to stop killing animals in the county's care under a formal resolution and plan approved by the county commission.
In a related development Wednesday, Manatee County Commissioner Carol Whitmore reported she and county animal services worker Tammy Bentley had received threats on a Facebook post in connection with the situation.
The Facebook post threatened to "...bust both of them upside their heads..."
"I got a call from the sheriff, and they said they'll follow up on it," said Whitmore.
Neal said she had not heard anything about the threats.
Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7031. Follow her on Twitter @sarawrites.