A Central Newfoundland pilot project aims to kill some of the more than 1800 feral cats that are estimated to be close to starving - but still reproducing – at 43 abandoned dumps throughout the region.
In Gander, the local SPCA has received $6000 for a project to clear out dozens of cats that live in the town’s former dump.
It’s one of the sites that closed as part of a provincial plan to centralize municipal dumps into a smaller number of regional dumps.
The plan also means cats left at the dumps are now running out of food. The cats use to feed on the garbage and scraps that were left at the dumps.
The SPCA’s Betty Suley says catching and euthanizing the cats is the only compassionate thing to do.
"It's hard. None of us like to do it. None of us want to do it but it is a necessity,” she said.
"The cats have been attacked by foxes and coyotes. We have seen three eagles up here already, so a small kitten doesn't stand a chance."
Suley said sterilizing and then releasing the animals is just not a humane option.
“Unless you have people completely dedicated, in all dumps, to monitoring the health of these cats, I don't think it's feasible,” she said.
Denis and Maryann Elliott have been taking care of some of the cats at the nearby, abandoned Glenwood dump.
“It's a disgrace that someone would leave cats in the dump,” Denis told CBC.
“I think this is one of the things that should have be taken care of before the dump closed...to catch them. I guess they'll have to be euthanized, which is not a good thing but it's better than being left here starving."
The Elliotts started feeding the animals in October.
“We’ve seen at least four pregnant cats in the last few months,” said Maryann.
"I'd rather see them gone...to a home hopefully. It's a sin.”
Elliott said she is hopeful the euthanasia program will be expanded...though it's not her first choice.
“I just wish there was homes for them,” she said fighting back tears..