Greenwood residents face a choice: Take the cat in as a pet or stop leaving it food.
The city plans to ban the feeding of most wild animals as a way to discourage coyotes and foxes from roaming neighborhoods. The Greenwood City Council decided Monday to extend that feeding ban to include feral and stray cats and dogs.
Council members said coyotes would eat the same food as wild cats and that residents feed them without cleaning up after them. They said people should either give those wild cats a home or stop leaving them table scraps on the back porch.
Council member J. David Hopper also encouraged residents to stop feeding squirrels if their neighborhood is plagued by coyotes, which have been blamed for a series of recent pet attacks and disappearances. He said squirrels make easy meals for coyotes, and a resident told him coyotes moved on after he stopped leaving food out for squirrels.
“It’s just fattening them up,” he said.
However, the council decided to eliminate a proposed requirement that people keep squirrel or bird feed at least 5 feet above the ground, so coyotes can’t get to it.
Residents had criticized that proposal, because most commercial feeder holders are shorter than the height the city wanted to require. People who spoke at the last council meeting warned council members of a widespread backlash if they told homeowners they no longer could set out the standard feeder holders available at local stores.
The council dropped that requirement and then voted 7-2 Monday to approve a ban on feeding most wild animals, including dogs and cats but not ducks, geese, birds, squirrels or chipmunks.
Under the proposal, residents could face fines of $50 to $250 if code enforcement officers catch them feeding wild animals. The council still must give final approval at its next meeting in two weeks.
Council members Bruce Armstrong, Ron Bates, Brent Corey, Linda Gibson, Ezra Hill, J. David Hopper and Tim McLaughlin voted for the proposal. Council members Mike Campbell and Thom Hord voted against it.
Campbell said he had cats and didn’t oppose anyone feeding them. Hord said he didn’t care for how the proposal was worded, thought the city would have a hard time enforcing such a ban and believed the city shouldn’t regulate what should be common sense in this case.
People should know not to keep wild animals around by feeding them without the city telling them what to do, Hord said.
Hill proposed expanding the ban to include feral and wild cats and dogs because he said that residents don’t clean up after their mess.
Hopper said people should take feral cats into their homes and become responsible for them if they want to feed them. He questioned what other reason there would be for giving them food.
“We don’t want feral cats and dogs running around willy-nilly,” he said. “We’ve got to do something to stop that.”