YUKON — A new ordinance approved by the Yukon city council will restrict the feeding of feral cats in the city and include fines for those who violate the ordinance.
But those who have fed the cats said the ordinance provides no provision for controlling the population humanely through spaying or neutering and it will instead starve the cats.
Council members passed the ordinance unanimously on April 9. The law prohibits people from feeding feral cats without approval from the owner of property inhabited by the cats.
Feral cats are descendants of domesticated cats that are born in the wild. They are found in colonies, including at Lake Hefner and Lake Overholser.
Grayson Bottom, Yukon city manager, said the ordinance was passed because several property owners were unhappy with a group of cat enthusiasts who had been feeding the cats without the permission of property owners.
“We have had numerous examples of people driving to certain parts of town and throwing feed on property that isn't theirs and without consent,” Bottom said. “That is no longer allowed.”
Bottom said the fine structure is progressive, with $50 for the first offense. The fifth offense would incur a $500 fine and a court appearance.
Group wants to help
Yukon resident Judy Landsberger said she has worked with about 15 people in recent years to spay and neuter the cats and return them to the wild.
“This work had been done at our expense and at no cost whatsoever to the city,” Landsberger said. “I asked the council point-blank if they planned to go out and euthanize them and they said no. In other words, they're going to starve them or hope they will just move on.”
Landsberger said her group held four public meetings at the Yukon Police Department to work with the city to find a solution but she said only one council member attended those meetings.
“They never attended a meeting to see what we were trying to do,” he said. “I don't know how you make a decision on something when you don't have any information about it. You don't spend money to repair a road without ever having seen it. Looking back, we should have known which way they were going to vote.”
Landsberger said the group has obtained permission from some property owners to feed the cats but often those who own neighboring properties have objected.
Bottom said he hasn't heard many complaints from residents about the new law. He said he had received two emails and one phone call, and two of those who contacted him didn't live in Yukon.
“We haven't had a lot of complaints about it,” he said. “I think our council is representative of our population as a whole. We believe this is what the people want and that it is fair to property owners who don't want cats on their property being fed.”
Landsberger said about 15 people have helped with the feeding in recent months. She said the group would work with others to feed the cats within the new law.
“I believe these animals are God's creatures and that if we can take care of them we should,” she said. “I just wish we weren't being penalized for wanting to help.”