DES MOINES, Iowa – The tiny town of Randolph is fed up with wild cats and is offering a $5 bounty for each one turned in.
Those not claimed will be euthanized.
Some question the plan that took effect March 1, but Mayor Vance Trively said Tuesday that the town of 200 people had to do something about the dozens of feral cats.
"You can't just let them keep multiplying in town," Trively said.
The southwest Iowa town approved the bounty after receiving numerous complaints, ranging from a cat attacking a small dog to a dozen cats showing up at the bowl when a resident tried to feed his own cat.
"One guy threatened to shoot all of them. I told him he couldn't do that in town. Other people talk about poisoning them, but you can't do that in town," Trively said.
Under the new policy, stray cats without collars will be taken to a veterinarian in the nearby town of Sidney — Randolph has no vet clinic — where they'll be kept "for a time for people to claim them," the mayor said.
If not, they'll be euthanized and buried.
John Snyder of the Humane Society of the United States said he doesn't have a problem with humanely euthanizing a stray cat.
"I guess that's a have-to-be in this particular instance," he said.
But Snyder has concerns about catching the cats.
"A feral cat is a very formidable opponent," he said. "I think the potential for somebody to get bitten or scratched in the process of trying to capture these cats is significant. If the cat scratches them and disappears, somebody may have to take some post-exposure rabies shots."
Snyder said he knows Randolph is a small community and money is an issue. But he said the money spent on the bounty and the vet expenses would be better used hiring someone who knows what they're doing.
"I'm concerned about children, people trying to capture these cats that don't have knowledge of what they're doing, being scratched or injured or inhumanely handling these cats for five bucks. Is it worth it?"
The mayor said several suggestions have been made, including neutering.
"A cat has got an eight to 10 year life period. Who is going to feed him during that length of time if you turn him loose? It's going to be the same thing it is now," Trively said.
The mayor said officials at the Southwest Iowa Humane Society in Clarinda suggested asking for donations.
"You couldn't get a donation to save a cat in this town for the life of them," Trively said, adding that the shelter doesn't have room either.
"It's one of those situations where what do you do?" he asked.
"Do you spend a lot trapping them? Then what do you do after you trap them? It's easier to pay the bounty," Trively said.
Trively said he also is concerned about rabies.
"If we get a case of rabies going or if cats start getting distemper and stuff like that, who is to blame for that kind of thing," he asked.
Trively said he's prepared for criticism.
"We know the people here in town, we know the ones that got cats, and we know their cats," he said.
Since the bounty went into effect, two cats — one of them pregnant — have been turned in.
Trively said he doesn't know how long the program will continue.
"We'll know when it gets into warm weather. Cold weather discourages people from getting out," he said.