The Milton Project TNR group from Savannah, GA has trapped, neutered, vaccinated and looked after the colonies of the abandoned and feral cats of Chatham County for the past 8 years, but the group has suspended its operations as of Oct. 1. Director Sherry Montgomery said the Georgia Department of Agriculture has made the project’s work difficult to continue by equating the return of the cats to their colonies as abandonment. Volunteers who feed and otherwise look after the colonies call their work anything but abandonment.
The Milton Project operated under the license of Coastal Pet Rescue, a non-profit, animal-rescue based organization in Savannah with whom they are allied. In April, the Department of Agriculture issued a stop order for that license based on the group’s return of ear-tipped cats to their colonies. “They’ve made it very difficult,” Sherry said. “One week they’ll say yes you have to have a license; the next week they’ll say no you can’t.”
Mike Murrah of the animal protection section of the Georgia Department of agriculture said the department has no specific regulations for TNR but the group was in violation of the terms of their license. “If they’re taking animals that have already been caught and relinquished to an animal shelter and releasing them into the wild, they’re unable to adhere to our record-keeping requirements,” Murrah said. According to an article in the Savannah Morning News, “Murrah said Wednesday the Milton Project could trap, neuter and return animals without a license from the Agriculture Department, though local ordinances about nuisance and abandonment might limit that activity. ”
Unfortunately for the cat caretakers, the state’s Department of Natural Resources takes the anti-cat position that has become widespread in government, non-profit wildlife organizations, and academe. The Savannah Morning News reported that the DNR has considered removing a colony that has been successfully managed by Milton Project volunteers.
The Humane Society of Greater Savannah is supportive of the Milton Project’s work and said they would like for the state to clarify their regulations so it could continue.
The group’s disappointed volunteer members cite the costs to the area if trap and kill is carried out in the county after The Milton Project is unable to continue their efforts any longer. Group members are only reluctantly giving up on their work and would prefer to be allowed to continue saving lives while limiting the number of homeless and free roaming cats in their area.
A heated comment thread between members and supporters of the Milton Project follows the article published at Savannah Morning News article at savannahnow.com. You can find the comment thread at the bottom of the story by clicking the link.
Below is a report from WSAV.