Buck Creek State Park is teeming with so many cats and other wildlife that park officials have posted signs and beefed up patrols to warn people not to feed the animals.
But a local resident, along with members of the Cat Alliance Located in Central Ohio, are concerned about the welfare of abandoned and feral cats in the park that some members have cared for and fed for years.
“I say we will stop feeding them when they start keeping people from dropping animals off at the park. I believe they’re not doing their job in the best manner,” said Doug Wamer of Springfield. “I don’t think they have the right to say something to someone who is genuinely concerned about the welfare of these animals.”
Brad Copeland, central district law enforcement supervisor for the parks, said it’s illegal to feed animals or transport and drop off animals at state parks.
Violators can be charged with a misdemeanor and face fines, Copeland said.
“By no means do the state parks want to be cruel to these animals, but by removing the food, that’s going to cause these animals to move on,” Copeland said.
Wamer said he’s rescued three cats and frequently visits at least 13 cats at Buck Creek.
He said members of CALICO have spayed and neutered animals in the park and taken some to receive medical care.
Clark County Humane Society Director Jimmy Straley said feral cats are a big problem in Clark County and “open feeding” only makes the issue worse.
“You’re creating a breeding ground,” Straley said. “When you drop food, it’s going to attract anything that’s hungry: skunks, coyotes, wildlife.”
Straley said the humane society does not have the funding to spay and neuter every stray animal, and those who ignore laws against feeding them are a big part of the problem.
“The cat problem is something that cannot be solved tomorrow. We do as much as we can, but unfortunately people continue to feed them. They don’t realize that they’re contributing to the problem and that they’re not helping these cats,” Straley said.
Wamer said he agrees that feeding the cats attracts raccoons and other wildlife and is concerned those animals could scare or harm children who visit the park.
But he said he wants park officials to do more to reduce litter and stop those who abandon animals in the park.
“I don’t think it’s fair to enforce laws in regards to feeding them when they’re not enforcing laws about bringing pets into the parks and leaving them,” Wamer said. “They will start to starve to death, and they’ll get weak and sick. Since these pets are already there, let them live their lives out normally.”
Copeland said officials have stepped up patrols in the park and said violators will be cited.