SUMMIT COUNTY, Utah — A new pilot program is set to begin next week in an effort to reduce feral animal rates in rural areas of the state.
The Humane Society of Utah partnered with Nuzzles and Co. to ask Summit County to help control the stray cat population.
"The issue is, they were running out of space," said Rachael Heatley of the Humane Society. "The next logical step is a community cat program."
Last week, the county council voted to approve the program that will allow people to set up a feral cat colony on their property, as long as they ensure the animals are taken care of. This includes spaying or neutering, vaccinations, and proper food and water.
"Certainly the greatest benefit is the requirement that they be sterilized. We are hoping that that might improve the situation," said Summit County Deputy Director Janna Young.
Summit County receives an average of 380 cats a year from people who surrender an animal or trap it on their property. While the county isn’t sure they have a large stray cat problem, animal activates hope it prevents unnecessary euthanasia.
“It’s a very big deal. It can save a lot of lives. Really, all it does is reduce the cat population in the wild,” Heatley added.
The sponsor of a colony will need to register and pay a $50 fee, but will not be named as the animal’s owners.
County officials aren’t sure how many people will register to create a colony, which is why they set up the pilot program to run through 2023.