'); } -->
LAKE WYLIE --
Efforts to curb Lake Wylie’s feral cat population could, some say, only worsen and widen the problem.
A fairly new colony of feral, or wild, cats near Sweet Repeat Foundation’s thrift shop behind Fred’s in Lake Wylie Plaza is drawing attention and complaints to York County Animal Control. A sign posted recently states “Do Not Feed Cats On This Property. We have been fined $470 per cat.”
Steve Stuber, county animal control director, said his group has fielded complaints but no fines have been issued.
“The feral cats in that area were causing complaints,” he said. “We are responding to complaints.”
Stuber said there are no fines associated with feeding feral cats. However, there could be fines for trespassing, if people are feeding the animals on someone else’s property.
“It’s just trespassing if they go onto someone else’s property to do it,” he said. “It has nothing to do with feeding the animals.”
Donna Tucker, president of Sweet Repeat, said the cat colony has been an issue for several weeks. Her group was told by animal control that they’d be fined if they fed the animals, she said, since complaints had come in from neighbors in nearby condos. In York County, feeding animals means a person is responsible for them.
“We don’t feed the cats,” Tucker said, though someone did begin feeding them in the area behind the property leased by the nonprofit. “I don’t care where they feed them, but not on our property.”
Sweet Repeat takes in money from thrift sales and donates it back into the community through various charities. Potential fines from the county, Tucker said, wouldn’t achieve that goal.
“We’re a charitable organization,” she said, “and we can’t afford to pay for cats.”
Renee Crenshaw, longtime volunteer with animal protection groups and a feeder of feral cat colonies in Lake Wylie, said volunteers with her groups only recently found out about the Sweet Repeat population. She’s concerned about stopping the feeding. When animals are “starving,” she said, problems arise.
“These cats are spreading out to look for food somewhere else,” Crenshaw said.
Crenshaw said volunteer feeders like her haven’t been fined, but the county is “threatening to fine” them. There’s an established colony near Buster Boyd Bridge that volunteers have been feeding for 20 years, another location that’s been supplied at least 15 years. Trapping, treating and releasing the animals in a contained environment is the best way to keep numbers down, Crenshaw said.
“You’re going to have 300 cats out there,” she said of the colony, if left unmanaged. “It’s a nightmare.”
Almost 40 cats were recently removed from a hoarding situation in Fort Mill, and Animal Adoption League is struggling to care and find homes for those animals. Animal shelters and rescue groups are seeing a dramatic increase in animals this year. In May, the number coming into the county shelter nearly doubled from previous months.