MILTON — The Milton Executive Committee wants to curb the city’s feral cat problem. It's starting with a sign informing the public it is illegal to release cats into the wild, punishable by a fine up to $5,000, and may include imprisonment, according to Florida Statute. City staffers will also look into further steps such as possibly adopting a catch, neuter and release program.

The matter came before the city through a letter from Marti Owens, a veterinarian with the Santa Rosa Veterinary Clinic.

Upon kayaking to Russell Harbor Landing, she wrote, she found 12 to 14 abandoned or feral cats; she then fed and neutered them. She asked the city to place a sign at the park notifying the public of the fine for abandoning animals.

“My fear is that someone else will dump intact cats at the park and that there will be an endless cycle of reproduction,” she wrote.

Theresa Messick said she counted 24 feral cats from Canal Street to Willing Street to Berryhill Road.

“They’re multiplying like crazy,” she said.

Since cats are territorial, a neutered cat returning to its territory will maintain its area while not being able to multiply; a cat removed from the area leaves an opening another cat will fill, according to City Manager Brian Watkins.