York City officials are considering a new law that would make it illegal to feed feral cats.
The proposal provides an exception for people who can prove they trapped a feral cat, had it spayed or neutered and then released it back into the wild.
Advocating for the ordinance amendment is resident Alicia Bligen, who lives in the 500 block of East Philadelphia Street.
Bligen said she's spent the past seven years trying to curb the cat problem in her neighborhood that, she said, is fueled by an out-of-town woman who visits every day to feed the feral animals.
The cats are "wreaking havoc," leaving the neighborhood a smelly mess and making it impossible to enjoy the outdoors, Bligen said.
"Something needs to be done about it," Bligen said. "It has been years since I have been able to use my grill."
At a York City Council meeting Wednesday, Bligen said the cats have turned her property into a litter box.
Asking the woman to stop feeding the cats hasn't worked, she said. The city needs a law "that will have consequences" for people who exacerbate the problem, Bligen said.
Proposal: The proposal specifically prohibits people from feeding, housing or otherwise assuming responsibility for wild animals, which includes feral cats.
The penalty for violating the proposed law is a fine between $100 and $1,000. Failure to pay the fine could result in jail time.
Bligen said she met with Mayor Kim Bracey and state Rep. Kevin Schreiber, D-York City, in February to express her concerns.
That meeting revealed the city does not have any regulations on the books to prevent people from feeding and housing feral cats — essentially allowing the cats to multiply and spread throughout the city.
Proof: Councilman Michael Helfrich asked what kind of evidence the city will need to prove someone has violated the ordinance.
That's something the city will "find out" through court proceedings, Solicitor Don Hoyt said.
Councilman Henry Nixon said he has empathy for Bligen's situation, as his own neighborhood has a feral-cat problem.
"It's never-ending," he said. "People who don't live with this don't have any idea what it's like."
The council decided to introduce the proposal at Tuesday's meeting. It could vote as early as Tuesday, April 15.
— Reach Erin James at firstname.lastname@example.org.