According to Margaret Lahey, director of fundraising, for the Humane Society of Lincoln County, the Summerlee grant will pay to capture feral cats, spay and neuter them, and return them to the wild.
“The research shows that the best way to manage a feral cat colony is to target that colony and stay with it until you achieve 100 percent sterilization,” Lahey said.
The grant will pay to purchase traps. The traps will be set in and around the colony. Once a cat is captured it will be taken to the vet, spayed or neutered and returned to the colony. Each cat caught will have its ear notched to avoid duplication. The cats will also receive an immunization shot and a rabies shot.
Dr. Lynn Willard of the Ruidoso Animal Clinic has agreed to perform the sterilizations and immunizations for cost.
The program will begin in the Ruidoso Downs area. “I know of at least three bad areas in Ruidoso Downs,” said Lahey, identifying a bad area as having a colony of at least 100 cats or more. “We know that’s the biggest problem area.”
She said, however, that Ruidoso Downs has been willing to cooperate with the Humane Society to address the problem. The first colony to be targeted is one in the Willow Mobile Home Park behind Big O Tires. Lahey said that colony has about 150 cats in it. Making matters worse, the Feral Cat Coalition claims, “A pair of breeding cats, which can have two or more litters per year, can exponentially produce 420,000 offspring over a seven year period.”
Lahey said the colony at Willow Mobile Home Park is a particularly good environment for a cat colony.
“It’s perfect. It’s down on the river. There is a grassy valley and the mountainside,” Lahey said. “There are all kinds of microenvironments.”
The Humane Society of Lincoln County plans to have the traps within in the next few weeks. In the meantime, they’ll be contacting residents informing them of the program and warning them to keep their own cats indoors.
As to the Hubbard grant, that money will buy stainless steel kennels for small dogs. The kennels will be easier to clean, sturdier and more durable.
“The Hubbard Foundation has funded us every year we have applied,” Lahey said. “They have funded us every year we have applied.”