BY BILL WOLCOTT
Niagara Gazette — SOMERSET — Is there a feral cat crisis in the Village of Barker?
Village Mayor Herb Meyer thinks so.
“The cats roaming like crazy. You can’t keep track of them,” he said recently. “They’re getting in the garbage and so forth. It doesn’t help that some residents put out food for them. They go where the food is.”
Nearby, Somerset Supervisor Dan Engert isn’t so sure.
“I haven’t heard anyone complaining,” he said. “My understanding was, the cats were captured.”
The cats Engert speaks of were at a house at 8681 Lake Road where perhaps 100 cats were living. The house, which was owned by Beverly Cox, was condemned and demolished in the summer.
“That was disaster,” Meyer said. “It was real bad. It stunk. There was feces on floor over an ankle deep.”
Their number of cats and source of he problem remains open to conjecture. The animals with no owners have no boundaries.
The mayor thinks that when the Lake Road house was razed, the cats found new homes in the trailer parks on Lake Road and migrated to the village.
“They’re mostly along the back side of East Avenue. People are feeding them,” he said. “It’s gotten large as time goes on.”
At a recent Barker meeting, Kelly Casale, who represents Feral Cat Focus in Niagara County, said it would cost an estimated $40 per cat to have the females spayed and males neutered.
Meyer didn’t like the sound of that.
“Where to the funds to come from? It’s not going to be a cheap deal. It will cost money,” he said. “We have to get community support to to go forward ... We don’t want to raise taxes, but we want to get it under control.”
Casale said Olcott raised $2,000 to fix its cat problem. She does not know the number of cats Barker has or what the project will cost.
The mayor hopes to get the cats spayed and neutered by spring if the village can get funding. “It’s still in its infancy,” he said. “It will take time to get whole thing going.”
According to Shelter Director Amy Lewis, the SPCA of Niagara, took about 80 cats from the house on Lake Road and managed to get about 70 adopted. Five feral cats were returned to live in the area.