This week, the Marathon County board voted to ween funding for stray cats away from the Marathon County Humane Society.
If the society wants to keep it's same level of care for the cats, funding will have to come from municipalities and fundraisers in our area.
The county board said its decision is fair and legal.
Bird lovers said this decision may risk more cats in the environment, which in turn may take a toll on the feathered population.
Marathon County Humane Society Executive Director Mary Kerlin said stray cats come in every week, ranging from five to 50.
"I don't think we've had a week go by that we haven't had multiple stray cats come in," Kerlin said.
She said the overpopulation problem has a history in our county, and the society gets a lot of cats, in fact, she said they got around 900 in this last fiscal year.
So to make sure the animals get proper care, the society asked for more money from the county. On Tuesday, the county board officially said no to that option.
"I'm not happy about it. I'm not mad about it," Kerlin said. "I believe the people in Marathon County in the different municipalities are going to talk to their own officials in their own town and pick it (the cat responsibility) up from there."
Starting Jan. 1, the county will reduce funds from the $132,000 it had been providing.
It will give $60,000 in 2014 and $30,000 in 2015 to municipalities to help pay the society's bill.
In 2016, they'll give nothing.
"The rational the board used was simply that, statutory, Marathon County has no ability to charge a licence for cats," Marathon County Vice Chairman of the Board Kurt Gibbs said. "The other municipalities have the statutory authority."
Gibbs said the old contract funded dog and cats, and the new one will only fund dogs, unless either a dog or cat bites a human.
"It's a municipal problem," Gibbs said. "The municipalities are going to address that in their own way."
The problem of overpopulation of cats worries Marge Gibson , co-founder of the Raptor Education Group, Inc. (REGI).
She said if the municipalities don't take responsibility for the lack of pet owner responsibility, the bird population could suffer too.
"People always say well our cat had kittens and we can't afford to keep all the kittens," Gibson said. "That's what spaying and neutering is very important."
She said not only do they treat up to 12 birds a week from cat attacks, the cases of rabies in cats are increasing in the nation because they aren't inoculated as often.
That's why she said the responsibility should start with pet owners.
For now, Kerlin said the society will take care of the cats in the cages, and whichever ones are still there by Jan. 1, she'll keep.
However after that, she looks to the municipalities to help with the ongoing cat problem in Marathon County.
Marathon County Board Member Lee Peek told NewsChannel 7 on the phone, one of the reasons he thinks the municipalities should pay instead of the county is because the problem of stray cat overpopulation is mainly in metro areas. He doesn't think the rural areas that don't have the problem should pay.
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