There are more cats than people living in Beaver Creek.
The tiny Yukon community of 113 has roughly 200 cats roaming its streets.
But that’s about to change.
In early March, the Yukon government’s animal welfare officer, with the help of the Yukon Humane Society, is going to start rounding up some of these feral felines.
One Beaver Creek resident “is watering and feeding as many as 50 cats,” said Wes Wirth, Community Services operations and programs manager.
But he’s running out of resources, said Shelley Cuthbert, president of the humane society.
So about 36 of his cats are going to be caught and brought to the Whitehorse shelter.
“Assuming we can catch them,” said Wirth.
The resident is going to keep the remaining cats, which are already spayed and neutered, he said.
The cats are going to live in a new, seven-metre trailer outside the Mae Bachur Animal Shelter.
Community Services helped purchase the trailer and it’s going to fund all vet care and travel costs for the cats, said Wirth.
“If some cats are in very bad health, to stop the pain and suffering we may look at euthanizing them,” said Cuthbert.
“But to our knowledge all the cats are healthy, so we want to get them their vaccines, spay and neuter them and find them homes.”
Roughly 20 of the cats are going to be flown to Calgary where some have already been spoken for, she said.
“We are making arrangements with Air North,” said Cuthbert.
The Yukon has a Dog Act, but no cat act, said the Yukon’s chief medical officer of health, Brendan Hanley.
“So there is not a lot of legislation to deal with a situation like this apart from the Yukon Public Health and Safety Act,” he said.
“There was a perception there may be health concerns,” added Hanley. “But there is a stronger case for action based on public nuisance.”
With this population explosion, people are coming across dead cats, as well as urine, feces and the accompanying stench, he said.
“Plus there are concerns the cats are attacking other pets and threatening the bird population.”
The cats are also being blamed for luring more foxes and bears into the community.
Beaver Creek has been overrun with cats since 2006 when a local woman moved to Whitehorse, leaving behind at least one pregnant feline with lots of pals.
By the end of that year, there were upwards of 30 feral cats roaming the community. Many had no ears or trails because they had frozen off.
One resident at the time came across eight frozen cat carcasses that winter. Many had distended bellies from hunger and worms.
This summer, the humane society and Community Services plan to reassess the situation.
“We want to see how many feral cats are still living in the community,” said Cuthbert.
“And if there are more, we will go back and get more.”
“Spaying and neutering your pets goes a long way in helping with this sort of problem,” added Wirth.
Contact Genesee Keevil at firstname.lastname@example.org