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Grand Forks County Commission moves to support Circle of Friends TNR efforts

The animal shelter currently is working in Emerado, North Dakota, and has completed the TNR process with 24 cats so far but is looking to expand its efforts throughout the county with support from the commission.

The Grand Forks County Office Building. Photo by Nick Nelson for the Grand Forks Herald.
The Grand Forks County Office Building. Photo by Nick Nelson for the Grand Forks Herald.
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GRAND FORKS — The Grand Forks County Commission on Tuesday made a motion to support Circle of Friends Animal Shelter in its TNR (trap, neuter and release) efforts throughout Grand Forks County.

The animal shelter currently is working in Emerado, North Dakota, and has completed the TNR process with 24 cats so far but is looking to expand its efforts throughout the county with support from the commission.

CEO Lauralee Tupa and COO Rachael Murphy spoke at the meeting, saying Circle of Friends is targeting the feral and community cat population.

“I spoke to one gentleman who lived there, and he said that it was getting to the point where the coyotes were coming into town to try and get the cats and that was posing a safety risk,” Murphy said. “He said he hasn’t seen them since last year when we started.”

Circle of Friends has three designated types of cats they encounter: feral cats, stray cats and community cats.

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“We're looking to target that feral and community cat population,” Murphy said. “We're not looking for old cats that are just running loose. We take the effort to teach the community around them to keep them in the home. Ferals are not socialized (and) do not want to be around people. They’re the ones that don't even look at them.”

Murphy said TNR can replace the act of just removing cats from a place and rehoming them or putting them in a shelter, which will temporarily decrease the local population, but more cats will eventually take their place. She said there is usually a reason for stray or feral cats to congregate in one area.

“There's a resource there that they want,” Murphy said. “They want food, water, shelter, anything. That's other males, females, all of that.”

READ MORE ABOUT GRAND FORKS COUNTY COMMISSION
The bond term would be over the next 20 years, according to County Auditor Debbie Nelson. The project is expected to start in spring 2023. As for why the commission elected to move forward with bonding at this time, Tom Ford, director of administration for Grand Forks County, said interest rates were at the center of the decision.

Murphy noted that TNR efforts also include tracking and vaccinations for things such as rabies. Only feral and community cats are placed back into the population, with stray cats being re-homed through adoptions. It is about a four-day process for each cat.

Tupa asked the commission for support in case there are complaints filed against their efforts while expanding, as well as to make sure expansion throughout the county is something the commission would support.

“We want to make sure that if we are doing that, that if you get a complaint, you're aware of the program existing and why it's happening that way,” Tupa said.

In other news, the commission was briefed on COVID-19 cases throughout the county. Only weekly updates are being provided currently due to case data being distributed weekly by the state of North Dakota.

Vaccination rates are increasing, mostly due to people over the age of 50 receiving an extra booster shot. As of Tuesday, 60.9% of the county is vaccinated at least partially against COVID-19, with the caveat pediatric vaccines are not available yet. In the past week, 58 positive cases were reported in Grand Forks County, up from the same week last month, when there were only 20.

Jacob Holley joined the Grand Forks Herald as its business reporter in June 2021.

Holley's beat at the Grand Forks Herald is broad and includes a variety of topics, including small business, national trends and more.

Readers can reach Holley at jholley@gfherald.com.Follow him on Twitter @JakeHolleyMedia.
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