01/22/2015 09:45 EST | Updated 03/24/2015 05:59 EDT

Trap, neuter, release program for feral cats in Langley

In an attempt to keep the feral cat population under control, a team of volunteers has started a trap, neuter and release program in Langley.

It was started by Langley Animal Protection Society volunteer Shelly Roche, who got the idea two years ago, shortly after she agreed to foster a litter of 10 kittens found abandoned in Port Kells.

“A man brought them in from kind of an industrial area,” Roche said.

“They were really sick. They were the sickest kittens we had ever seen. All sorts of diseases. It took a lot of work to get them back to health. Then we started thinking it’s great that we got the kittens, but the moms are still out there.”

Roche returned to the area where the kittens were found and discovered an entire colony of cats.

She now has a team of about 30 volunteers to help her trap, neuter and release strays found in Langley.

Feral cats are expected to live about ten years less than the average house cat, according to Jayne Nelson at the Patti Dale Animal Shelter in Langley.

“Sadly, three out of every four babies will die before they’re six months old,” she said.

“They will fall prey to disease, coyotes, cars. It’s a pretty tragic way to live a pretty short life.”

Feral cats hurt bird populations: study

A study conducted by researchers from the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute found between 1.4 and 3.7 billion birds are killed by cats each year in the United States.

According to the study, a pet cat will kill between 1 and 34 birds a year. A feral cat will kill anywhere from 23 to 46.

That’s one of the reasons BC Nature wants to see licences issued for pet cats.

“That is not happening at the present time,” said past president John Neville.

“There are a lot of free roaming cats in the cities that technically belong to people, but they’re out there killing wildlife. It would be a lot more beneficial to owners and the cat population if they were neutered, kept at home and licensed like dogs.”

Neville says he’s not against cats, but he would like to see the feral population kept under control.

BC Nature has lobbied municipalities across the province, asking them to adopt cat licensing bylaws.

To hear more about Langley's trap, neuter, release program, click the audio labelled: Curbing the feral cat problem in Langley.