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Group backs keeping colony
Compromise not end of cat fight
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Forsyth County News
How to help

• For more information on how to help the feral cat effort at West Bank Park, e-mail

• Donations to help cover the cost of spaying or neutering, vaccines and other vet care may be sent to the Humane Society of Forsyth County, P.O. Box 337, Cumming, GA 30028.

• They can may be made online at or Please include the phrase “Attn: West Bank Cats” on checks or online donations.

• The coalition is also accepting accepting cat carriers, wire crates, cat food and other supplies.
Despite a temporary compromise with the federal government, an animal rescue coalition contends a managed colony of feral cats still should be allowed to live at a lakeside park.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, with some help from the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office animal control unit, began removing the felines March 28 from West Bank Park on Lake Lanier.

At least 16 cats have been trapped and removed from the park. They were being taken to the Forsyth County Animal Shelter.

The Humane Society of Forsyth County has since announced a deal that allows a group of animal rescue organizations to trap, spay/neuter, vaccinate and relocate the cats.

In addition, the animal control unit has agreed to release the cats it finds to the coalition after a seven-day holding period.

The coalition includes the humane society, the Georgia Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the Feral Cat Program of Georgia.

Jill Gooch, executive director of the local humane society, said the initiative is “one of the largest combined efforts in Georgia to rescue and save feral cats.”

According to a statement from the organization, studies and similar situations nationwide have shown that feral cats inhabit an area because they have found food and water.

It goes on to say that the colony at West Bank can be managed, particularly since it would be nearly impossible to remove all the cats.

“Therefore, even if every cat were removed, which isn’t possible, the park will continue to have a feral colony because it offers food and shelter,” Gooch said.

“This is what’s known as the ‘vacuum effect,’ because even if this colony is removed, more cats will fill the vacuum.”

In explaining the removal effort, the corps has cited scientific studies that suggest that feral cats can have a negative effect on other wild animals.

The corps has also contended that unvaccinated cats are a top carrier of rabies and a common parasite that is harmful to pregnant women and those with immunodeficiency orders.

“We’re asking that they all be removed,” said Lisa Coughlan, corps spokeswoman. “They pose a public health hazard at the recreational facilities.”

While the coalition plans to continue working with the corps and animal control to achieve a long-term solution, it could use some help from the public.

The organizations are making an effort to find good homes for any friendly cats.

Kittens and some strays have a better chance of adapting to family life, while truly feral cats are not able to be domesticated, according to the coalition.

“Even with all these groups coming together, help is still needed,” Gooch said. “The biggest need is for volunteers.”

She said the group could use help trapping the cats from 7 to 10 a.m. and 7 to 10 p.m.

Transportation to and from veterinarian visits are also needed, as well as volunteers to care for the cats and placement locations for friendly cats.

The coalition is also accepting cat carriers, wire crates, cat food and other supplies.