Coupeville relocates feral felines

The free lunch for feral cats in Coupeville is about to end.

About 10 cats regularly dine at feeding sites near the town wharf, but now various local governments have come together and adopted a plan to make the cats scat.

The cats present several public health concerns and officials are working to relocate the animals.

To help resolve the roaming cat problem on Front Street, officials will be implementing an incremental plan to remove the cats in the next several weeks, said Coupeville Mayor Nancy Conard.

Officials from the town, the Port of Coupeville, the Island County Health Department and the residents who place feeding bowls near the wharf met Wednesday afternoon to deal with the situation.

The feeding bowls will remain over the next couple weeks. That will allow workers to start trapping the cats and relocate them to other parts of the island.

Officials are working with the Whidbey Animal Improvement Foundation (WAIF) to find a suitable location for the wild animals, Conard said. She said the meeting with the residents and officials went very well and the residents were understanding of the health concerns the wild cats present.

Conard said the warm-hearted residents who place the feeding bowls have trapped some cats and paid to have them spayed or neutered.

“On one hand it’s a real good thing, on the other hand it’s done in a place where people don’t appreciate it,” Conard said.

She hopes the cats will be gone in the next couple of weeks.

The port commissioners have been hearing concerns about the feral cats feeding at the wharf and they have been working with other organizations to find the best way to deal with the problem.

Jim Patton, executive director for the Port of Coupeville, read a letter from the Island County Health Department during a Wednesday morning port meeting outlining the concerns about the wild cats.

The port is responsible for cleaning up any feces left by the cats. In addition the open food containers can attract rats, which prompts communicable disease concerns associated with the rodents, Patton said.

Feral cats aren’t just a concern in downtown Coupeville. Shari Bibich, WAIF shelter manager, said there are problems with barn cats left behind by families that move from the island. Those cats can often have litters of kittens who aren’t socialized and go feral, or wild.

WAIF offers two programs to spay and neuter feral cats. One is a $30 coupon. Residents can trap a cat and use the coupon at a participating vet to get a discount. WAIF can also come out and trap a cat and then fix them. However, Bibich said there is often a waiting list for such a service.

For more information about WAIF programs, call 678-5816.

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