The latest animal concerns have targeted skunks, which are far more populous in our area’s only city, especially in summer, than one would think.
The city had a $25,000 contract with a local man to provide animal control, including trapping and removing skunks. But as councilors prepared a tough 2016 budget, that funding was cut.
Resident Patti Hackett pointed out to councilors that about 70 skunks were captured in the city last year. She noted that skunks pose a rabies threat on top of the obvious irritation: the stink that prompts people to hold their breath and slam shut their windows. And dog owners can attest to the tenacity of that odor once it attaches to fur.
Improper garbage disposal is contributing to the problem of nuisance animals, and the city should clamp down on residents who don’t have trash secured in garbage cans with lids.
We aren’t suggesting fines; a city-sponsored education campaign, such as leaflets sent in the utility bills detailing the problems caused by exposed trash, could mitigate the problem.
The city is looking into a skunk-trapping campaign this spring. Some “lucky” crew could be paid around $10,000 to seek out known skunk dens and snag the creatures before they start breeding.
The Press-Republican believes that every community that has a fairly large population concentration should offer some kind of animal control.
Many towns contract with local animal shelters or have part-time officers or pay by the job to remove nuisance animals. A few wildlife rehabilitators help out with certain types of creatures.
Certainly a city the size of Plattsburgh can afford $25,000 for animal control in a $53.1 million budget. That amount is justified when measured against the service rendered — ask anyone who has watched a smelly skunk waddle through the back yard.
Maybe the city can share this service with the Town of Plattsburgh, whose residents are also in the line of spray.
But the most acute animal problem in larger communities is not the distinctively marked black and white invaders — it is feral cats.
Overrunning neighborhoods, getting into garbage and, most sadly, suffering starvation, exposure and sickness, wild cats present an overwhelming concern that few municipal governments are properly addressing.
Because shelters and a smattering of other aid programs exist, public officials act as though they are off the hook as cats continue to breed, live and die in corners of our neighborhoods.
It is inhumane to the cats and frustrating and heartbreaking for humans.
Every municipality with a population center, especially the City of Plattsburgh, should be investing in trap, neuter and release programs to reduce the feral-cat population.
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