The feral cat population is rising in Challis, according to Heart of Idaho Animal Sanctuary board chairman Todd Adams, and he asked City Council members to help the shelter reverse the trend.

“We’re looking to expand our spay and neuter program,” Adams said. We’d like to start in Challis and eventually have a presence in Mackay and Stanley.”

Adams and Tirzah Stuart, director and founder of the sanctuary,asked council members if they would be willing to buy into the neutering program. Stuart said she has asked Custer County commissioners to chip in as well.

Stuart and Adams want to use the combined money, supplemented by donations and grants, to hire a full-time animal control officer for Custer County. The officer would be part of a trap, neuter, return plan. Feral cats are trapped, taken to the shelter to be neutered or spayed and returned to where they were trapped.

Adams said “studies show that by trapping, neutering and returning cats to their home territory, the overall feral cat population goes down and there are fewer problems with them. No fighting or caterwauling during mating season, for example.”

Stuart said if animal shelter workers can control the number of cats roaming around Challis, they can control the impact the animals have on the community.

Adams said a trap, neuter, return pilot program is underway near Challis Elementary School. Students and residents who live near the school partnered with the sanctuary to create a livable feral cat colony where neutered feral cats can live.

“If the pilot program works out, we’d like to see it spread to other neighborhoods,” said Adams.

Council members agreed with Stuart and Adams the feral cat population is an issue in Challis. However, they reserved judgement on Adams’s request until he submits a list of specific requests.