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Casey Christie / The Californian

A feral cat looks through the brush upon hiding in the bushes in Hart Park.

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Casey Christie / The Californian

A feral cat sits next to a large, plastic bowl in Hart Park to be used to feed the cats.

Beginning Monday, the Kern County Animal Shelter will begin to phase out taking feral cats.

The decision was made because the shelter kills 100 percent of feral cats brought in and it simply doesn't have the resources to continue that program given the overwhelming amount of animals it handles. Cost to the shelter in relation to feral cats is about $120,000 a year.

It's hoped those resources can better serve the community through spay/neuter programs or other measures.

The shelter has typically taken in and euthanized 1,200 cats a year and experts say leaving those animals where they are won't cause any greater harm as there are an estimated 142,000 free roaming cats in the Bakersfield area already.

Once a feral cat spay/neuter option is determined, residents will be asked to trap ferals, have them altered and return them to their original territory under a "trap neuter release" (TNR) program.

The shelter has established a hotline and dedicated email for community questions and concerns.

Those are: (661) 868-6999 and kerntnr@gmail.com.

-- Lois Henry, Californian columnist