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Airport Safety and the Feral Cat Population

May 19, 2010

RICHMOND, Virginia (May 19, 2010) - During the past several weeks, Richmond International Airport has been confronted with the problem of a rapidly growing and unmanaged feral cat population on airport property. Unfortunately, the feral cats have been found on the airfield, including runways and loading areas, and have been injured or killed on roadways and parking lots. This clearly poses an airport safety hazard, both for the public and for the cats.

In coordination with the USDA, we have recently conducted removal operations of the feral cats and turned them over to Henrico County animal control. It is our hope that animal control, with the support of community organizations, can find suitable homes for the cats.

Members of the community have offered to manage the feral cat population by trapping, neutering, returning them to the airport property, and engaging volunteers to feed them. We empathize with their well-meaning concerns about animal welfare, but we respectfully disagree with them and cannot allow this approach to occur. It does not eliminate the safety risk of an unmanaged cat population roaming airport property - particularly roadways and aircraft movement areas - and it runs counter to safety laws that prohibit citizens from trespassing on airport property outside of the public facilities in and around the terminal and parking areas.

We have additionally undertaken preventative efforts to ensure that a large feral cat population does not return to airport property. This includes discouraging public feeding and other human intervention with unmanaged animals on airport grounds.