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How should we handle problem of feral cats?

My heart is breaking. The police are setting live traps on Gemmel Avenue to catch the feral cats I have been catching, fixing and releasing for several years. The officer setting the trap on Friday said, when caught, the cats are taken to the pound.

Have you visited the pound? I have and I cried at the conditions unclaimed animals

spend their final days. (A visit there may even encourage donations to the Beltrami Humane

Society.) Let me say this: the condition of the pound is not the animal control officer's fault. The pound is a city facility. There is no money for improvements on several city-owned buildings let alone death row for unclaimed animals.

I have not been told if they will repay me for the investment of spaying and neutering the animals they will be killing. I do know this, Bemidji does not have sufficient police officers to allow them to be trapping cats in the most humane manner. For instance: the regular animal control officer was off duty so another nice young officer set the trap on Friday. On Saturday, not having seen a police officer on our street, I went to check the trap. It contained a raccoon. I do not know if the raccoon had been in the trap 10 minutes or 10 hours without food or water. I called the law enforcement office and was told the animal control officer was off duty until Monday and the young officer that set the trap was off duty as well. Fortunately the dispatch relayed my message to someone and the young man came in his own pickup to get the raccoon. If I hadn't checked the trap and called law enforcement the raccoon in the trap would have suffered without water an inhumane length of time.

I know the Bemidji City Council has decreed that no resident in Bemidji can have more

than four pets. They have also decreed that residents may not feed deer. Now I have

been ordered by the chief of police to not feed cats. I know that if the neighborhood

cats are removed new cats will claim the territory. The new cats will not be spayed or neutered and the police will have to spend more time looking for more wild cats.

If there is a blessing in this horror story, at least there will be police on my street and the speed demons won't barrel through so it could be the safest street in town.

Linda Lemmer