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BARKER – The Village Board has invited experts to discuss solutions to the burgeoning local feral cat problem during a special information session at 6 p.m. Monday.

The meeting will be held in the Barker Free Library, 8706 Main St., and will be followed there by a regular board meeting.

Village officials said they have received several complaints from residents in recent months about a growing problem with feral cats in this village of roughly 500.

“We had a small problem, but it got bigger with the mild winter we had last year and then the demolition of the abandoned house on Lake Road in Somerset this summer, where they found more than 100 cats,” Mayor Herb Meyer said. “I thought we’d better nip this in the bud.”

The Village Board has invited representatives of Feral Cat Focus to address the public Monday.

“We have met with them and were impressed,” said Meyer.

Edie Offhaus, a co-founder of Feral Cat Focus, said her group has handled similar projects throughout Western New York since its founding nearly a decade ago.

It was contracted by the Town of Newfane last spring to tackle a feral cat problem near the town marina in the hamlet of Olcott.

“By all accounts, I think it was a complete success in Olcott, and everyone seemed pleased with the work we did there, but this will be an ongoing project,” Offhaus said. “We will have to gauge the results and take another look and just keep going back until we have zero complaints.”

Offhaus’ group helps trap, neuter, vaccinate and return the feral cats to the area, as well as place kittens and friendly cats not owned by residents up for adoption through the Niagara County SPCA.

She emphasized the importance of educating the public on creating a controlled colony with healthy spayed or neutered cats.

“It doesn’t matter if you love cats or hate cats – there is only one solution, and that is to spay or neuter them,” Offhaus said. “It’s not about the cats – no one minds seeing just a few cats around – it’s about the numbers.”

She said residents can expect “an honest and fair question-and-answer session” at Monday’s meeting.

“We want to help both the people who don’t want the feral cats and those who love them and are feeding them,” she said. “We can give them information on the … program and even ideas on how to help keep cats out of their yards.”

email: niagaranews@buffnews.com