Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

January 20, 2013

Town facing cat problem

BY BILL WOLCOTT
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — BARKER — Is there a feral cat crisis in the Village of Barker?

Village Mayor Herb Meyer believes there is.

”The cats are roaming like crazy. You can’t keep track of them,” Meyer said. “They’re getting in the garbage and so forth. It doesn’t help that some residents put out food for them. They go where the food is.”

Somerset Supervisor Dan Engert had not heard of the feral cat problem. “I haven’t heard anyone complaining,” he said. “My understanding was, the cats were captured.”

According to Engert, Meyer has not talked to the supervisor about the cats. “He has not had any discussions with me,” the supervisor said. “If there is a problem, he didn’t bring it to my attention.”

Meyer thinks the problem stems from a house at 8681 Lake Road where perhaps 100 cats were living. The house, which was owned by Beverly Cox, was condemned and demolished last summer.

”That was disaster,” Meyer said. “It was real bad. It stunk. There was feces on the floor, over-the-ankle deep.”

The number of cats and source of the problem remains open to conjecture. The animals with no owners have no boundaries.

The mayor thinks that when the Lake Road house was razed, the cats found new homes in the trailer parks on Lake Road and migrated into the village. “They’re mostly along the back side of East Avenue. People are feeding them,” he said. “It’s gotten worse as time goes on.”

According to Meyer, there is a rumor of a woman in the Main Street area who has been providing food for the cats for years. 

Meyer conducted a meeting Monday at the Barker Free Library to discuss the feline problem. Kelly Casale, who represents Feral Cat Focus in Niagara County, said it would cost an estimated $40 per cat to have the females spayed and males neutered.

Meyer said, “Where do the funds come from? It’s not going to be a cheap deal. It will cost money. We have to get community support to go forward ... We don’t want to raise taxes, but we want to get it under control.”

Casale, who lives in Niagara Falls, said Olcott raised $2,000 to fix its cat problem. She does not know the number of cats Barker has or what the project will cost.

There are trailer parks on the north and south side of Lake Road and Casale said people have been feeding cats there for years. With renters, she said, pets may be thrown out with the trash.

The mayor hopes to get the cats spayed and neutered by spring if  the village can get funding. “It’s still in its infancy,” he said. “It will take time to get the whole thing going.”

According to Amy Lewis, the Niagara SPCA took about 80 cats from the house on Lake Road and managed to get about 70 adopted. Five feral cats were returned to live in the area because it was determined that they were too wild for domestic life.