PROVO — BYU Cougars could soon be studying the other cats on campus.

The Provo City Council gave preliminary approval Tuesday to a change in city ordinances that would allow BYU students to capture, radio-collar and release feral cats now living on the university campus.

Thomas Smith, a professor of wildlife management at BYU, said the cats offer a good study opportunity for university students.

Smith estimated there are 100 to 200 feral cats living on the BYU campus.

"We don't want to keep them in captivity," he said.

The problem is releasing the cats once they are collared. City ordinances require that feral cats be turned over to animal control officers if they are captured.

Smith requested a change in the ordinances that would allow his program to release the cats for study purposes. After a cat has been studied, it would be recaptured. "We want the collars back," White said.

At that point, the cats would be turned over to Provo's animal control officers, as required by the ordinance.

"The cats are very vicious. They bite and claw, and it would be good experience for the students to learn how to restrain them," White said. "We want to study where they go, what they eat, and how much of their diet comes from supplemental feeding by people."

— Marc Haddock