This stray cat and her kitten sleep next to food that was left for them in Champaign County. Similar feeding is now banned in Vandalia. JEFF GUERINI / STAFF

Resident wants to raise awareness about Vandalia’s stray-animal feeding ban

Residents say food left out for stray cats is also attracting wild animals, including skunks and coyotes in Vandalia.

The feral cats go in and out of storm drains.

“There were three cats hanging out of a sewer, then I saw one cat per yard, in separate yards,” said Kathleen Durig, who said she first noticed the increase in cats last summer. By fall it had gotten so bad, she went to Vandalia City Council.

City leaders on March 22 passed an ordinance that bans the feeding of stray or wild animals, which took effect immediately. The only exception is for the outdoor feeding of birds, so long as the bird feeders do not attract stray or wild animals.

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“If it needs to be revisited, I have full faith in the mayor and the council that they will help ram it as needed to help the situation,” Durig said.

At Durig’s home, she has placed mothballs and wiring to keep her yard free of unwanted animals. But now, it’s not just cats.

“My backyard neighbor was bit and attacked by a skunk because it was feeding from the food that was left in the back shed for the cats,” Durig said.

Others have reported seeing coyotes.

Durig said she wants to raise awareness about the new ban, and said that feeding the feral cats could cause more harm because they are not getting the care they need.

“I have deep respect for the planet, our environment and all animals, and I do not tolerate animal abuse of any kind ... we have humans then that are perpetuating this problem by continuing to feed and shelter them,” she said.

Vandalia city officials said enforcement of the ordinance is complaint-driven. If a resident calls to complain, city staff will look into it and make sure anyone feeding strays is aware of the ban.

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