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Feral cat task force seeking volunteer help

By Staff | Apr 5, 2010

Lee County’s task force for the Trap-Neuter-Return Program, a statewide initiative to curb the growing feral cat population, is holding a meeting later this month and asking for local volunteers to assist with its activities.
The Lee County Board of County Commissioners approved the program last year. It is designed to catch feral cats, sterilize and vaccinate them, and re-release them into the wild. Administered through the Lee County Domestic Animal Services, it is funded by the Florida Animal Friend License Plate program.
Ria Brown, director of the Lee County Domestic Animal Services, said the task force is looking for as many volunteers as possible.
“They may assist people in trapping the cats to get them in for surgery or transporting them back to the location where they came from,” she said. “We try to encourage the people to do it themselves, but that’s not always possible, so we need people who are willing to help and assist.”
The task force meeting is Saturday, April 17, from 1-2 p.m., at the shelter on 5600 Banner Drive in Fort Myers.
Brown said there are an estimated 98,000 feral or free-roaming community cats living in Lee County and unless something is done that population will continue to balloon.
“We certainly don’t want that number to get any larger,” she said.
Most people feed the cats near their home, she said, but they need to make sure the cats aren’t reproducing. Homeowners can use their own traps to catch the cats for sterilization or check-out a trap from the Lee County Domestic Animal Services.
Veterinarians from the University of Florida School of Veterinary Medicine have been working with Lee County officials to keep the feral population in check.
The TNR task force is looking for volunteers from Cape Coral, Fort Myers, Bonita Springs, Lehigh Acres, North Fort Myers and Estero who are willing to give a few hours or days a week.
For additional information about the program or becoming a volunteer, call 533-9200 or e-mail dward@leegov.com.