The Provo Municipal Council voted 6-0 in Tuesday's council meeting for a change that would allow for the trapping, sterilizing and releasing of nuisance animals for education purposes and scientific projects.
The ordinance change came from a request by BYU professor Thomas Smith. Smith needed the ordinance change in order for his students in wildlife management classes to learn how to work with, trap, collar and research feral cats roaming throughout campus -- 28 have been captured in just the LaVell Edwards Stadium.
While the council was prepared to make the ordinance change, passionate members of the audience hoping to at least give the cats some representation were allowed to speak.
Of greatest interest to the council was an offer by Daye Abbott of No More Homeless Pets in Utah. "We are willing to partner with Provo in a pilot program in an effort to adjust the ordinance to help all feral cats. We have $1,000 in private resources for the pilot program."
The program would include training and information on trapping, neutering and releasing policies and procedures that have been adapted by several communities throughout Utah including Salt Lake City.
"I would be interested in furthering the idea of a pilot program with the city," said council chairwoman Midge Johnson via telephone.
Residents and others concerned about the ordinance took the podium to give their ideas for how feral cats can be cared for. One resident had captured three feral kittens in her backyard. They were neutered and in an agreement with the south animal shelter. The kittens were allowed to stay in her yard, contradicting city policy on the number of animals housed at single family dwellings.
Some disagreement on whether ferals were actually wild or not came up, but it was concluded the definition of the cats still fits under the nuisance category.
Humans seemed to be the biggest problem when it comes to feral cat communities. According one concerned resident, "We've created a big problem being irresponsible," she said. "We need to be proactive with feral cats."
The council didn't make a decision on the feral pilot program offered, but if timing has anything to do with it, the Municipal Council might take the issue up by Oct. 16 -- National Feral Cat Day.