2018-03-09 / Government / Neighborhood

Feral cats take over Richland County Council meeting

By Mike Cox

The newly renovated council chambers was busting at the seams for the first time since Grand Opening. And the issue that brought all the people: feral cats. A motion was on tonight’s agenda to remove a sentence in the current policy dealing with feral cats so that after cats are trapped and neutered, they are returned to their colony.

At issue is the last sentence of the existing ordinance, which currently offers property owners the option of refusing the last step of receiving feral cats back to their original location after being neutered.

According to most experts, cat colonies will continue to thrive whether existing cats or new ones populate the place. Colonies are established by feral cats because they have what they need to survive.

By reintroducing trapped and altered cats to their existing colony, the group stays stable and by neutering, most of the nuisance behavior associated with feral cat complaints goes away. The cats can continue to live as they are used to and die a more natural death. Without the replenishment caused by breeding, the colony will eventually disappear.

The council chambers were packed with people, many sporting “Trap and Kill” stickers supporting the language change. Denise Wilkinson from Pawmetto Life Line spoke for the group, telling the council members and others present Richland County had been “working ten years to get to a no kill policy,” and that keeping the “no return” option means all those cats will be killed. Wilkinson said where the Trap, Neuter, Return (TNR) policy is followed, feral cat colonies are reduced quickly and humanely.

But there is a large group of Richland County residents who don’t agree with that idea. Yvonne McBride gave an impassioned speech thanking all who showed up, sent her emails, and made calls about the issue. She wanted the ordinance to remain as is, saying she was unable to find scientific data to support TNR, and suggesting education is the key to getting the policy implemented.

McBride and Gwen Kennedy each spoke for property owners in their districts and said they should have the right to say what happens to nuisance cats on their property.

In the end, the ordinance was approved. The language will be taken out and county officials will attempt to educate people who disagree with the idea. Also during Citizens Input, several citizens spoke about a property sale in the Vista. Joseph Kopac asked the council to reconsider the sale of property on Huger Street, as did Bart Walrath, Jim Colwell, Debra Row, and Steve Hinson. All those folks expressed concern about getting information on the sale announcement and about the idea that student housing would be the result of the sale.

After several minutes of discussion on this item, it was deferred until after the next Columbia council meeting. Seth Rose and Norman Jackson both requested future property sales be made more public. Rose suggested adding them to local MLS.

During the second Citizen’s Input, Virginia Sanders and former council chair Bernice Scott asked the council to reconsider the recent change of management at Pinewood Lake Park. Both ladies said Pinewood Lake Foundation was doing a good job and were being cast aside without anything, not even a thank you.

Audra Green-Castor asked the council to add the next Richland County aquatic center to Garner’s Ferry Adult Activity Center.

In other actions, the council voted to add live streaming to all council work sessions and hold work sessions in council chambers when possible.

The council approved Jered Brien Nisky as a Code Enforcement Officer and named Gregory B Cunningham and Stephen M Juszkiewicz to LRADAC.

Return to top