A Potlatch woman told the Latah County Commissioners on Wednesday the county has a feral cat problem, and euthanasia might be the most safe, cost-effective and humane solution.

Khaliela Wright asked that the commissioners spend the $20,000 the county provides annually to the Humane Society of the Palouse more effectively.

In a letter, Wright wrote that the county's $20,000 could spay and release 50 feral cats annually whereas the same $20,000 could euthanize 400 animals.

"To me it would make sense to use the money that you do have as efficiently as possible and that would be taking money out of the hands of the Humane Society and making it available for people who want to get rid of feral cats," she wrote.

She said Wednesday that residents could choose to spay or neuter and return the feral cats to their outdoor homes or euthanize them.

Wright said much of the research she has done proves the Trap-Neuter-Return program is very ineffective and often the most expensive option available.

She said people do not want feral cats returned to their homes after they are spayed or neutered so the program is ineffective.

"It's an ongoing problem, and it needs to be dealt with, and it needs to be looked at," Commissioner Dave McGraw said.

The TNR program also recommends vaccinating the cats but those vaccinations wear off, Wright said. She said residents would have to trap the cats annually, which is not something people want to do.

Feral cats sometimes die painfully from vehicles or other animals rather than being euthanized humanely, she said.

Plus, she said, they continue to reproduce.

Wright said she cared for four feral cats last year that she tried to give to the shelter. Now she has 10, which she said the Humane Society of the Palouse will not take because they are feral, and one of them is pregnant again.

She said it would cost her $1,000 to spay and neuter the 10 feral cats.

"As far as I'm concerned - and a lot of other people, euthanasia really is the compassionate option," Wright said.

She said People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, the American Veterinary Medical Association and the Humane Society of the United States recommend euthanasia for feral cats.

Feral cats produce health risks. Some of the infections Wright mentioned to the commissioners can be transmitted to humans while others can spread to pets.

McGraw said he and the other commissioners will look into solutions to the feral cat issue and welcomes input from the public.

Commissioner Tom Lamar said they should communicate with all the Latah County towns to better address the problem.

Garrett Cabeza can be reached at (208) 883-4631, or by email to gcabeza@dnews.com.

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