Residents feeding feral cats attracting vultures in Mahoning Township

Feb. 12—MAHONING TWP. — Residents of Mahoning Township expressed concerns regarding the population of black vultures in the township. They suggested the vultures are attracted to the area because of residents feeding feral cats.

"Over the past several months, the department has received several complaints about feral cats being fed within the township," Police Chief Fred Dyroff said in his monthly report. "There have been businesses that have had to trespass certain people from coming onto their property to feed the cats."

Though Dyroff noted several reasons to not feed feral cats, he said the largest issue affecting the township has been the gathering of vultures.

"Recently, the biggest negative impact of feeding feral cats by leaving cat food in large plastic bins throughout the township has been the gathering of vultures that have been drawn into these food sources," Dyroff said. "We have received several complaints from concerned residents who are worried about the safety of young children, pets, and property damage, namely damage to roofs by the birds' claws."

Dr. Dominick Conca, who was in attendance at the meeting, said he has witnessed around 24 vultures on his property over the last two weeks. Conca said the vultures prompted him to conduct some research.

"They can see something from about a mile up and when they come, they come in a massive group," Conca said.

The largest concern for residents regarded children and small pets, according to Conca. "One thing I'm really concerned about as a physician is for little children and pets. Two of those could pick them up or just attack them," he said. "I've seen three of them come down on some squirrels and they really attack viciously."

Township police have also witnessed the vulture in action, according to Dyroff. "Our officers have witnessed vultures rip apart a dead cat along Justin Drive just a few months ago," he said.

Riverside borough recently struggled with their own vulture issue. Township Supervisor John Whelan said he reached out the the borough for recommendations.

"Their answer was to eliminate the food source," Whelan said. "In Riverside, there were a lot of people putting bags of garbage out not in a can and they had to get rid of that."

The township has taken action in cases where residents have fed feral cats on others' properties, however there is not currently an ordinance in place that prohibits residents from feeding feral cats on their own properties, supervisors said.

"All we can do right now is encourage residents to do away with the food source," Whelan said.

Supervisor Bill Lynn said he would be in favor of the township considering an ordinance against feeding feral cats. "This has been a problem for a long time and it's not getting any better," Lynn said.

Supervisor Kyle Yeager said he would support an ordinance as he has a son who goes to Busy Little Beavers in Danville where concerns about the vultures and feral cat feeding have also been brought up.

In terms of an ordinance and taking legal action, Dyroff said police would need to have witnesses willing to testify.

"We would have to have witnesses, like a neighbor who sees someone putting food out," Dyroff said.

Dyroff said he has seen a number of ordinances on the topic and addressing the issue in that way is a possibility.