Cat waste deemed health issue at city park

By CANDY NEAL
cneal@dcherald.com

HUNTINGBURG — Cats run rampant in Huntingburg City Park, leaving urine and feces all over.

The problem is amplified when people leave food for the cats in the park.

“It’s a health issue,” Parks Director Larry Altstadt told the Huntingburg Park Board Wednesday evening.

People have been leaving containers of food for the cats, particularly inside League Stadium’s fence.

“They slide it under the fence,”Altstadt said. “I just picked up a 9-by-13 container just this morning.”

He estimated that there are about 15 cats. And they are not all feral cats. There are several who have homes, but aren’t contained to their houses. “So they come down and eat too,” Altstadt said.

“That is ridiculous,” said board member Abby Fink. “When we had the Get Out and Serve, (feces) was everywhere.”

They mentioned seeing feces in the shelter houses, in League Stadium, in the playground area, on the ball fields “When the kids played in the fall,” board member Mark Peters said, “we found it down the lines on each side.”
Altstadt said the cats like the sand lines because they can somewhat bury their waste.

Wednesday morning, when workers were installing the concrete bar at the stadium’s concessions area, they grabbed a board not knowing there was feces on it. “We got poop on our hands,” Altstadt said. “So they had to clean that off and clean off the boards.”

In the two years that Altstadt has been director, cats roaming and leaving feces in the park has been a problem. The Dubois County Bombers and high school coaches have talked to Altstadt about the problem and their concern, he said.

“This is not just a winter problem,” he said. “It’s an all-year problem.”

He has checked with the Dubois County Humane Society, but they do not have room to take the cats. Some cats have been caught and sent to Purdue University to be neutered. And this summer, some families of Bombers players took a cat.

Altstadt added that if anyone would like a cat, “I’ll do my best to catch you one.”

It’s hard to catch them all; many cats escape by going under the bleachers in the stadium, he said, adding that that area will soon be sealed off. Also, the cats are also having litters of kittens, which means more cats, he added.

Park workers do their best to clean up the feces, but it’s a lot. “We can’t keep up,” Altstadt said. “We don’t have enough manpower.” They have also found dead cats, which they have to dispose of and bury the bodies, he said.

Altstadt has found some of the people who are feeding them and has asked them to stop. But they continue. “They think they are helping the cats,” Altstadt said.

“If they want to feed the cats,” Fink said, “they can feed them at their house.”

New board member Shannon Fuhs agreed. “If you like the cats so much, take them home and take care of them,” she said.

The board welcomed Fuhs, who replaced Mande Keusch on the board. They also told Altstadt to look into having a contest for someone, possibly high school students, to paint murals on the walls at League Stadium.

Board members were reminded that the next park board meeting will be at 5:45 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 21 at Old Town Hall, 309 Geiger St.




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