ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Volunteers are concerned about the growing population of feral cats in Central Florida.
Rosemary Lesher is one of the volunteers working to prevent the increase in that number in Orange County, and has been since 2015.
"I don't want any of them to be killed. I'd like to get them into homes for people and that's why I do this for the cats." Lesher said, as she brought in several cats to Orange County Animal Services. Lesher has been doing her part to help reduce the cat population since 2015.
Lesher said she's seen more stray cats recently than she had in previous years.
"I can't even tell you the number of cats I went through. It's getting to be extremely bad. It started with a house a block aways from us, who had babies, and then it extended from there," Lesher told News 6.
Bill Gaskin, the vice president of the nonprofit organization CARE Feline TNR, or Trap Neuter Return, works with Orange County Animal Services and said his organization recently partnered with the Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando.
Gaskin said it's been hard to keep up with the number of feral cats recently.
"To us, it almost feels like there's more than what we're getting fixed right now," Gaskin said.
Teams from both organizations will go into areas where feral cats are concentrated. Their goal is to spay and neuter 100 percent of the feral cat population in Orange County.
Gaskin said the organizations need help in reaching that goal.
"We actually need lots of volunteers because we're kicking off a large-scale operation. It's gonna be a multiyear operation," Gaskin said.
Orange County isn't the only Central Florida area with an overpopulation of feral cats. Osceola County was awarded a grant to help with the costs of spaying and neutering. The funds also pay people who go out to cat colonies to trap cats and bring them back to the shelter.
In Volusia County, the Concerned Citizens for Animal Welfare program has also been working to control the feral cat population. Since 2012, the Halifax Humane Society has reported the number of feral cats brought to its clinic has dropped by more than half.
Gaskin said even working to raise awareness of the issue helps the community.
"It's definitely a large issue. It's a community issue though, so we need everybody in the community to help us out. If you're not able to trap the cat and transport it, we need people that will go door to door and talk to their community about the cats," Gaskin said.
Anyone who needs a trap can contact the organization CARE Feline TNR or Orange County Animal Services. Once you've received a trap, you can go online or call either organization to make an appointment for the intake process.