Sunday, December 17, 2017
News Roundup

Town meeting will discuss no-kill solution to feral cat population

SPRING HILL — Joanne Schoch understands the critical battles encountered while trying to solve the problem of animal overpopulation.

As executive director of the Humane Society of the Nature Coast and a frontline soldier who has promoted animal welfare for more than a decade, she has actively pursued solutions that benefit both animals and the community.

Schoch's latest objective is a push to implement a county-approved trap-neuter-return program that will allow volunteer groups to capture free-roaming cats, get them fixed and vaccinated, and then return them to the area where they were found. She has invited a panel to join her at a community forum at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Palace Grand in Spring Hill to discuss concerns over such a policy.

Schoch said that although the program has brought proven results in other communities around the state, she doesn't believe it has ever gotten a serious look by Hernando officials. And though she admits that the policy has some controversial aspects, especially among wildlife activists, she believes a healthy discussion could lead to a balanced solution, taking into account every point of view.

"The idea is to look at TNR, both pro and con, and see what works for people and what doesn't," she said. "At some point, however, I'd like to have something workable that we can bring before the County Commission that they're willing to get behind and support."

Tuesday's panelists will include Schoch; Lisa Centonze, the new managing veterinarian for Hernando County Animal Services; Rick Silvani, owner and operator of PetLuv Spay and Neuter; Tracie Stegner, a volunteer with Paw Warriors; and Laura Paige, a community advocate for TNR.

For two years, Stegner and her small Paw Warriors group have trapped, neutered and returned more than 1,000 stray cats in an area stretching from Centralia Road in northwest Hernando County south to State Road 52 in Pasco County and from Bayport east to Ridge Manor. One week last March, she pulled 60 cats from the Ridge Manor area, then returned them fixed, vaccinated and with notched ears.

Stegner knows that technically the TNR process violates county ordinances. So she does the work "under the radar" in the belief that the process offers a viable solution to cat overpopulation that doesn't involve killing.

"I don't agree that we need to trap and euthanize animals in order to bring the populations under control," she said. "The vast majority of the cats we capture have owners that feed them and care for them. They aren't a danger to the community."

But others disagree. Wildlife activists worry that feral cats that aren't being regularly fed will turn to eating birds, snakes and other native wildlife. One study in Wisconsin showed that stray cats killed millions of songbirds each year in Wisconsin alone.

Schoch said while she understands those concerns, she believes feral cats that are returned to an existing colony near people who can care for them are less likely to turn to killing for food.

"In a way, feral cats are wildlife, too," Schoch said. "They've been introduced to the environment, and like some wildlife populations, they need to be managed and looked after."

Schoch pointed out that several private grants exist that would help support a communitywide volunteer TNR effort, and that such a program would not involve taxpayer dollars.

"To me, it's a question of what makes more sense, supporting a TNR initiative or keep sending county animal control employees to trap the cats and transporting them back to be euthanized," Schoch said.

Logan Neill can be reached at [email protected] or (352) 848-1435.

Comments
Lightning wins at Avalanche with four-goal second period

Lightning wins at Avalanche with four-goal second period

DENVER — The Lightning left for Las Vegas Saturday for the first of four nights in Sin City.But Tampa Bay’s first regret came before it boarded the charter flight; the Lighting lamented making Saturday’s 6-5 win over the Avalanche much more thrilling...
Updated: 6 hours ago

Bucs’ Gerald McCoy, Lavonte David out for Monday’s game vs. Falcons

TAMPA — As if containing All-Pro Julio Jones and the Falcons offense isn’t challenging enough, the Bucs will try to do so Monday night without perhaps their top defensive players, tackle Gerald McCoy and linebacker Lavonte David.On Saturday, Bucs coa...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Trump defends tax plan, proclaims economy set ‘to rock’

Trump defends tax plan, proclaims economy set ‘to rock’

WASHINGTON — Closing in on the first major legislative achievement of his term, President Donald Trump on Saturday defended the Republican tax cut as a good deal for the middle class while boldly suggesting it could lead to explosive economic growth....
Updated: 11 hours ago
Aquarium reopens to divers

Aquarium reopens to divers

Florida Keys News BureauVisitors to Florida Keys Aquarium Encounters dive with among indigenous Keys fish Friday in Marathon. The attraction reopened Friday after closing just before Hurricane Irma hit the Florida Keys on Sept. 10. Although tourism f...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Florida moves to control booming, invasive iguanas

Florida moves to control booming, invasive iguanas

MIAMI — With burrowing iguanas showing up in people’s toilets and damaging expensive sewer lines, Florida wildlife managers are stepping up efforts to control the state’s booming population of the wild, invasive reptiles. The Florida Fish and Wildlif...
Updated: 11 hours ago

Fan helps fund Miami Stadium’s historic marker

MIAMI — For thousands of kids who grew up in Miami, going to the old Miami Stadium in the Allapattah neighborhood was a part of coming of age. Opened on Aug. 31, 1949, with a game between the Miami Sun Sox and Havana Cubans, two Class B Florida Inter...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Florida man sues for $2.8 million fishing tournament prize money

Florida man sues for $2.8 million fishing tournament prize money

OCEAN CITY, Md. — Phil Heasley of Naples caught the fish of his life, but the $2.8 million in tournament prize money got away. Heasley reeled in a 6-foot white marlin last year off Maryland’s coast. But in a sign of how concerned some big money tour...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Romano: Some bullies survive beyond the schoolyard

Romano: Some bullies survive beyond the schoolyard

Sometime soon, members of the Florida House will be asked to consider a solution for bullying in public schools. It’s a dubious idea based on the premise that students should flee their tormenters, and use voucher funds to attend a private school of ...
Updated: 12 hours ago

Two die in head-on crash on Gunn Highway in Odessa

ODESSA — Hillsborough County deputies are investigating a head-on crash on Gunn Highway that killed two and sent a child to the hospital Saturday afternoon.About 12: 45 p.m., Terry Lee Bronschidle, 70, of Tampa was driving his Chevy Traverse south on...
Updated: 12 hours ago
Q&A with Syracuse coach Benoit Groulx about the Lightning’s next generation

Q&A with Syracuse coach Benoit Groulx about the Lightning’s next generation

DENVER — There might be one team in hockey hotter than the Lightning.It is Tampa Bay’s AHL affiliate, Syracuse.The Crunch has won 10 straight after Friday’s victory over Providence. Why is this important? While the AHL is a developmental league, the ...
Published: 12/16/17