The Elkland Cat Project, a project of Second Chance Animal Shelters, Middlebury Center, is working to spay and neuter feral cats, but needs help from the public, said Second Chance Animal Shelter manager Laura Clarson.

Last week, the project spayed or neutered 24 cats, gave rabies shots and released the cats back to their colonies.

Clarson attended the Mansfield borough council June 12 meeting to “give them some insight into how it was working in Elkland, what they could expect and what they could do.”

According to Mansfield borough manager Lynette Burton, the borough would like to partner with Second Chance to to cover the costs to spay and neuter the feral cats within the borough.

“The borough will continue working on a solution to the problem,” Burton said.

Laura said the problem of feral cats in Tioga County is “absolutely astronomical.”

“A lot of people don’t realize this is a local issue. We have people who come all the way from Maine and New England to adopt kittens because you can’t find them up there,” she said.

“Here we have so many I am turning them away constantly,” she added.

Other areas, including in neighboring counties of Potter and Bradford, have more funding, Clarson said, “and there is more education about spay neuter.”

“They have funding subsidies, low-cost clinics, SPCA funding, grant funding,” she said.

“Larger areas have organizations that have been around longer. After they start the programs the kitten rate drops 40-60%. We can’t handle all the strays in the county, there are just too many,” she added.

Tioga County recently lost all of its SPCA funding and its humane officer because SPCA wasn’t getting enough donations to keep them in the county, Clarson said.

“In Potter County there is SPCA funding, that is used to do spay/neuter and in Bradford County they have the low-cost clinic. We just don’t have that in Tioga County,” she said

Clarson said she was told that Tioga County “doesn’t give donations to SPCA, so it wasn’t worthwhile to put money into it.”

“I wasn’t happy, so now not only do we not have resources, now we no longer have a humane officer position,” she added.

Without the efforts of volunteer animal lovers and private organizations like Second Chance and Animal Care Sanctuary, there would be even more strays roaming and reproducing throughout Tioga County.

For information on how to help, visit the Elkland Cat Project on Facebook.

There will also be a booth at the Knoxville Carnival and a chicken barbecue at the Moose coming up in July, Clarson said.