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Cat quandary
Corps wants park cleared of feral felines
feral cats sign
The Corps of Engineers contends feral cats stay around West Bank Park because visitors feed them. - photo by Jim Dean (previous profile)
A Suwanee woman isn’t happy with plans to remove feral cats from a lakeside park in eastern Forsyth County.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on Sunday night began trapping cats at West Bank Park on Lake Lanier.

E. Patrick Robbins, corps spokesman, said they are working with animal control officers from the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office to safely and humanely trap and remove the animals.

“They’ve been there for years and there are people feeding them and the population is not decreasing,” Robbins said.

“Feral cats are known to possibly carry some diseases that are not good for humans, as well as have a negative effect on wildlife in the area.”

He said the corps has estimated there are 25 to 30 cats living at the park off Buford Dam Road. All the captured cats will be taken to the Forsyth County Animal Shelter.

Carmela Quinlan, a volunteer with the Georgia Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, said she’s been feeding and rescuing cats from the park since 2005.

She thinks the solution is to trap the cats, have them spayed or neutered and then return them to the park.

“That’s their home, that’s where they live,” she said. “When you do that, then you stop them from reproducing and you stabilize the colony.

“Feral cats do not live very long anyway, so they’ll just live out their lives.”

Quinlan said removing the cats permanently from the park won’t work because more will move in.

“They’re going to go any place there’s a food source,” she said.

Quinlan doesn’t support the corps’ project because the local shelter euthanizes those animals not adopted after a period of time.

“The best thing to do, and I have the backing of the Georgia SPCA and some other groups, is to come in and get as many cats out, get them fixed and return them all to the park,” she said.

“And all the kittens and young cats that we can socialize, have them adopted after they are fixed.”

Quinlan said the cats are afraid of people and not likely to approach or attack anyone.

“I don’t think they’re a threat to people coming to the park,” she said.

She also said she is afraid cats that have just delivered kittens will be trapped and removed, causing their litters to starve to death.

According to a statement from the corps, past efforts to work with local entities to trap and remove the cats haven’t worked.

The statement also cites scientific studies that suggest feral cats “negatively affect populations of native small mammal, bird, reptile and amphibian species through predation and harassment.”

It goes on to say: “Unvaccinated cats are a top vector for the spread of rabies and a common parasite carried by feral cats is particularly harmful to pregnant women and those with immunodeficiency disorders.”