By Bill Wolcott
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal
NEWFANE — The cat crisis in Olcott came to a head Wednesday night at a special public hearing before the town board, but little was resolved after about two hours of give and take.
About 60 people attended and the speakers, mostly women, took on the issue. Speakers were spirited, but played by the rules for the most part, addressing the board and not each other.
There were differences of opinion
Cats, mostly on the west side of the hamlet, are leaving feces, spraying and causing havoc at the fishing marina, according to some speakers. Boaters and
seasonal cottage visitors are looking for other summer havens.
The issue was ignited by a legal notice in the April 19 edition of the Union-Sun & Journal. Representatives of the Niagara County SPCA, Buffalo Humane, Feral Cat Focus, and Save-a-Pet took notice. They joined residents of Newfane opposing to the plan which was referred to as “Trap-Remove-Eradicate.”
A protester said, “The board’s was not very well thought out. They had no idea where the cats were going to go.”
Speakers argued for a Trap-Neuter-Vaccinate-Return plan. Counter arguments concerned cost and assurance of success.
Town Supervisor Tim Horanburg noted that he gets many complaints from boaters and tourists, but emphasized, “I cannot unload the cost on the taxpayers.”
Amy Lewis, the interim director of the SPCA, said. “We would be happy to assist them. We are not going to kill healthy animals.”
However, the SPCA would not be allowed to take feral cats, those descendants of domesticated cats that have returned to the wild.
The question arose to where the trapped and treated cats would be placed. Would they be relocated or brought back to familiar territory.
“Cottage owners have issues,” one speaker said. “They are still going to pee and poop.”
Carol Tutzauer, President of Buffalo Humane, called on the town to embrace its feline side for the long-term economic interests of Olcott Beach.
Jill Massett, president co-founder of Feral Cat Focus, lives on the east side of the marina which cleared up the problem four years ago. She want sto take an inventory of the people who are feeding the cats on the west side.
“What they’re doing in their hearts they may think is the right thing,” she said. “They love these animals, but what they are doing is the wrong thing. They are being a nuisance. We want to get them to do the proper thing. They are being disruptive.”
Board member Gordy Fletcher said spoke out about the Trap-Out-Return plan. “Their idology is on track,” he said. “The problem I have is the same as the supervisor’s, who pays for it? It’s not the taxpayers responsibility to pay for people’s cats to be spayed and neutered. They (people who feed the animals), are the exact problem. They have to come forward with the names of the people who are doing that. We can address that.”
Horanburg promised to get together with the organizations do work out a plan.