City council hears about feral cat troubles

By BUSTER WOLFE,

The director of a Hattiesburg animal shelter told the City Council this week that feral cats “are here to stay,” and dealing with them will lead to stabilizing or even reducing the number of disruptive animals.

Ginny Sims, director of Southern Pines Animal Shelter, said during Monday’s work session that the method for dealing with feral cats has changed through the years.

“Historically, the way to deal with feral cats has been a trap and kill solution,” she said. “What we have seen is this solution doesn’t work. Feral cats are the offspring of cats who may have been abandoned, left at large, living outdoors and the cats are one or more generations removed from human contact.

“So, they don’t depend on people for their affection and they don’t depend on people for their care. … What brings them to a community are resources: food, shelter and water.”

Sims said removing the cats is not the solution.

“It is just going to keep the resources and new cats are going to begin to move in,” she said. “This will continue the reproduction and the community will continue to grow.”

As the groups of cats grow larger, sickness begins to increase and the population becomes unhealthy, Sims said. “We’ve tried the old solution all across the nation and it has not solved the problem. We continue to see feral cat populations grow.”

The preferred method of dealing with feral cats is called “trap and retire.”

“What happens is cats in a colony are trapped, they are brought in to be altered and rabies vaccinated,” Sims said. “They receive an ear tip which shows that they have been fixed and vaccinated, and then they are released to the environment where they were previously thriving. What this does is prevent the additional creation of new kittens by interrupting the reproductive cycle and also help curb some of this behavior that comes along with mating in cats.”

Sims said spaying and neutering will be the preferred method of controlling the feral cat population.

“Until we start addressing the unaltered population of our community cats, we are going to continue to feed cats that will try to go out on the town to fulfill those hormonal urges,” she said. “Really, it’s a bigger problem than one or two cats; it’s addressing the colonies of cats in the city that are attracted to the things that we bring.

“The cats are here to stay, and looking for how we will address them will be important to stabilizing that number,” Sims said.

In other action in Tuesday’s regular meeting, the City Council:

• Adopted a Resolution declaring surplus certain equipment and vehicle and authorized the sale of said items at auction, and removal of said equipment and vehicle from the City's inventory of the Parks and Recreation Department, Cemetery Urban Forestry Division.

• Adopted Resolution declaring one 2005 Chevrolet Truck surplus; authorized sale of said vehicle at auction and removal of said vehicle from the inventory of Water and Sewer Department of the City of Hattiesburg.

• Adopted a Resolution authorizing Requisition No. 19 from the Project Fund Construction Account in connection with a certain loan agreement dated Aug. 18, 2016, by and between the Mississippi Development Bank and the City of Hattiesburg.

• Authorized the Mayor to execute in quadruplicate an Interlocal Agreement with Forrest County, Mississippi to facilitate the construction of a pedestrian bridge over U.S. Highway 49 adjacent to Country Club Road in the City.

• Authorized the Mayor to execute in quadruplicate an Interlocal Agreement with Forrest County to facilitate the construction of a public sidewalk between J. Ed Turner Road and the Longleaf Trace in the city.

• Authorized Mayor to execute professional services agreement between City of Hattiesburg and Doleac Electric to provide generator maintenance on all city-owned generators at a cost of $56,575 for annual maintenance and an additional fee of $21,280 for semi-annual maintenance.

• Authorized the Mayor to execute an Authority to Cancel Resolution of Condemnation for property located at 1305 Rebecca Ave.; Authorized recording of same.

• Authorized Mayor to execute contract between City of Hattiesburg Parks and Recreation Department and Michelle Williams for the management operation of the City of Hattiesburg Summer Aquatic Program.

• Approved Construction Change Request No. 1 for the Highway 11 Medical Park Access Roadway Project for an increase of $3,448.50 to the contract; Authorized Mayor to execute duplicate copies of same.

• Declared and approved a sole source purchase covering rental of election equipment and related services for the upcoming municipal election for Special School Bond based on information in the attached memorandum; authorized City Clerk to execute rental agreement with Election Systems and Software, Inc., in an amount not to exceed $10,950.00.

• Ratified and confirmed the Mayor's appointment of Jennifer D. Payne (Ward 1) to the Hattiesburg Convention Commission Board for a two-year term beginning May 8, 2018 and ending May 7, 2020.

• Designated Festival South's kickoff event, the Best of the Pine Belt awards gala June 2, 2018, at the Saenger Theater as a city-approved event for the purposes described in Ordinance No.  3148.

• Adopted a Resolution endorsing the bond referendum scheduled for May 22, 2018 and encouraging all citizens of Hattiesburg Public School district to vote in favor of the bond.

• Acknowledged receipt of Privilege Tax License Report for March 2018.

• Acknowledged Proofs of Publication for March 2018.

• Acknowledged receipt of executed Warranty Deed from Stan Black for a portion of Lamar County Tax Parcel No. 051D-02-001.003 PPIN 35075 for the J. Ed Turner Drive Multi-Use Path Corridor Project.

• Acknowledged receipt of a Permanent Utility Easement from Jeanette H. Salter for a portion of Forrest County Tax Parcel No. 2-038D-16-100.00 PPIN 14107; Authorized City Clerk to record with Forrest County.

• Acknowledged receipt of a Permanent Easement from Eldridge and Rosetta Johnson, crossing a part of Lot 10, Block 2 of the E.P. Cassidy Subdivision, further identified as Forrest County Tax Parcel No. 2-038D-16-099.00, for the purpose of maintenance, stabilization and erosion control of an existing ditch; Authorized City Clerk to record easement with Forrest County.

• Acknowledged receipt of Permanent Utility Easement and Temporary Construction Easement from Madison Place Homeowners Association, Inc. for a portion of Lamar County Tax Parcel No. 051G-01-292.000; Temporary Construction Easement is for the COMSWIP Sewer Project Phase V; Authorized City Clerk to record permanent utility easement with Lamar County.

• Acknowledged receipt of bid from DPC Enterprises for Term Bid Item No. 11; rejected bid due to technicalities and procurement laws and authorize re-advertisement for bids.

• Acknowledged bids received on March 8, 2018 for Computers and Cradle Points for Hattiesburg Police Department vehicles and accepted bid from Pinnacle Network in the amount of $66,933.70 as the best bid received.

• Acknowledged no bids were received on March 15, 2018 for Term Bid Items No. 13-Sodium Fluoride & Lime and No. 28- replacement parts for aerators at the north and south lagoons for the Water and Sewer Department of the City of Hattiesburg; Authorized re-advertisement for bids.

• Approved Specifications and Authorized Publication of Advertisement for Term Bid Item No. 21 (Sand, Gravel, and Fill Dirt) for the City of Hattiesburg Public Works Department.

• Approved Plans and Specifications for the Bobby L. Chain Municipal Airport Taxiway A Extension Part 2 Project; Authorized publication of Advertisement for Bids for same.

• Approved the sale of grave spaces.

• Approved claims docket for the period ending April 30, 2018.

The next Hattiesburg City Council meeting is scheduled for 5 p.m. May 22.