Updated: Jun 12
June 11, 2022
Mountaineer News | Opinion
(Don't Miss the Slideshow Conclusion)
BUCKHANNON, WV - Rumors have been circulating around local Facebook forums regarding a well-known feline population located within the city limits.
The 'Cat Colony', as it's known, can be found along the Buckhannon River Walk trail adjacent the city dog park.
The situation has caused mix emotions for local residents, which have only escalated over the past few months via social media.
Given the rumors and sense of urgency surrounding this particular issue, I felt it was time to address the growing cat population at the River Trail. But where do we begin?
? SAY WHAT ?
On a recent 'What Buckhannon Needs' Facebook post, a local resident stated:
* "I see that the city had the cats removed from the walking trail which is sad enough, but was told today that the cats they couldn't catch were then poisoned. If this is true, I and everyone else should be outraged at the cruelty." - Linda D.
Buckhannon Mayor Robbie Skinner was made aware of the post and offered this response on June 10, 2022:
"Good afternoon everyone,
This is NOT true. The City did NOT remove the cats from the river trail, nor would we EVER poison them. We love animals just like everyone else - which is why, over the past several weeks, I’ve spoken with a few different people (private citizens - completely unrelated to the city) who were going to work on re-homing the cats that aren’t feral, and the ones that are, they were going to find areas out of town (preferably a barn owned by someone who would welcome them) so they could live a better life. A cat colony of any kind really isn’t ideal for the community, or for the cats, so this really is the best solution for all involved.
Hopefully this puts the rumors to rest. Please check sources before posting and perpetuating false rumors and accusations. We encourage anyone seeking factual information to call City Hall at 304-472-1651, and press 2 for the Mayor’s Office. We’ll be happy to help in any way possible.
I completely agree with Mayor Skinner that any information seeming questionable should be substantiated prior to posting. This prevents the spread of misinformation. * The original post was edited to state that the response from the city had been received.
To: Mayor Skinner:
I couldn't agree more... This is not an ideal situation for all involved, so we need to start with the basic fundamentals - How do we control the ever-increasing cat population at Buckhannon's Cat Colony?
With regard to the following information, cited sources are ubiquitous:
Relocation should only be considered as an absolute last resort, when the cats' lives are in danger unless you act. Cats are territorial and form strong bonds with their outdoor homes, so relocation is extremely stressful and risky—for the cats AND for you.
Many experts agree that feral adult cats simply can't be tamed. They are wild animals, like raccoons. They tend to stay away from humans, hide during the day, and when adopted, are very difficult to socialize. We experienced this exact behavior during our visit a few weeks ago.
Just like you would never try to handle a raccoon, you should never try to pick up a feral cat unless you are adequately educated and prepared to do so.
From having first-hand experience with cat rescues, I also agree with the experts and can say that feral-turned-domesticated results are indeed a rare occurrence, and simply relocating feral cats to barns is not as simple as it sounds from a humane perspective.
Whether feral or domesticated, spaying and neutering is the most effective way to begin reducing the cat population.
If you ever stayed home sick from school and watched the Price is Right, Bob Barker always closed with words of wisdom that we should listen to very carefully:
“Help control the pet population. Have your pets spayed or neutered...”
How about the feral ones who didn't ask to be homeless, hungry, thirsty, sick, scared, cold or hopeless? ...
We all know that 'nipping' this issue begins with the basics of animal reproduction; Spaying and neutering. Immediate action is required as it will only continue to spiral out of control.
The Downward Spiral of Reality (again, sources are ubiquitous):
Female cats can reproduce 2 to 3 times a year, and their kittens, if they survive, will become feral without very early contact with people.
Cats can become fertile as early as 5 months of age, and the number of cats rapidly increases without intervention by responsible and caring people /organizations.
If we could only gather a few qualified volunteers and ask that local veterinarians collaborate to perform the spay/neuter procedures via discount vouchers and/or free of charge for the community, we could at least begin the process of solving this issue for all involved.
I'd be the first to volunteer in assisting with the capture/transport processes. Who's with me?
So, if you happen to be a licensed veterinarian located anywhere within reading distance of this article, please take one minute of your time to consider this proposal.
If you're not a licensed veterinarian but happen to know one, please forward this article and ask that they take a minute of their time to consider. Or perhaps you know of an animal rescue we haven't yet contacted who could assist our community via their relief efforts.
Who will step up, Upshur County? Anyone?
If not, then what potential solutions can the community veterinarians or other pet professionals offer to point us in the right direction?
This will require educated decision-making if we are to effect change with the Cat Colony here in Buckhannon. Considering random options that are proven ineffective is not realistic. Let's do this together as a community and handle the situation as humanely as possible, making the best-informed decisions for all involved.
We're listening (and watching), Buckhannon.