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City commissioners approve program to help manage feral cat population

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Posted at 8:04 AM, Jun 13, 2023

HELENA — The City of Helena held a City Commission Meeting, Monday, where they unanimously agreed on the Trap, Neuter, and Release Program (TNR) to manage the growing number of feral cats in the area.

According to city documents, there are six to seven colonies of feral cats in the area each with between 10 and 20 cats.

To help control the population of these colonies, the city passed TNR, releasing the animals back to where they were captured.

Animal Control, or rescue groups, will use humane live traps to capture the cats. The cats would then be turned over to the Lewis and Clark Humane Society, where they would be examined to see if they were healthy enough for surgery.

If they are healthy, they would be spayed or neutered, vaccinated for various diseases, including rabies. During the surgery time, the cats will also be ear-tipped.

Ear-tipping is the removal of about a half inch of the cat's left ear, so they could identify the cats that were in the future sterilized and vaccinated.

Then, after surgery, the cats returned to the wild once they have been medically cleared.

The goal for the city would be to sterilize as much as 80% of the colony, limit the growth of the population, and reduce the potential for disease.

"There is another agency, up in Havre, currently doing the animal control up there. Their stats, they've used this program on over 450 cats, all the area's that they have implemented this program, they've seen a large reduction in the number of cats. Also, the health of the cats improved, and the amount of cats coming into the shelter has declined," said Brett Petty Helena Police Departments Chief of Police.

If a captured animal is not considered healthy enough for the procedure, medical staff will consider other options including possible euthanasia.