Monday 21 November 2022

Two New Jersey towns support TNR with one trying and rejecting a trap/kill policy

NEWS AND COMMENT: This story concerns a couple of New Jersey, USA towns. One of them is Bayonne, a city in Hudson County and the other is actually described as a borough and it is Matawan. The latter tried to introduce, in a ham-fisted way, a feral cat trap/kill program which backfired badly.


The borough administrators introduced an ordinance which said that they were going to trap stray cats and if nobody claimed them within seven days, they would kill them. And in a badly mismanaged way, they said that the Monmouth County SPCA would do the trapping and killing without consulting with them in the first place. And secondly, they employed the local police force to distribute notices about their new but flawed campaign.

From Facebook.

It all blew up in their face when the SPCA complained bitterly that they hadn't been consulted and the public rebuffed them. The police had to make a statement to say that they weren't involved in the killing of cats. Clearly, the campaign did the police no favours as it damaged their reputation.

Anyway, the mismanaged campaign, organised by Scott Carew (as I understand it), the borough's business administrator together with the animal control officer and councilwoman Melanie Wang, was abandoned without any stray or feral cats being trapped.

They made a U-turn on realising their error and have decided to introduce a new ordnance which focuses on TNR (trap-neuter-release). That's the way to go. But it took the public and the SPCA to teach them that lesson.

Humane and ethical approach

The public are concerned about feral and stray cats. Some people hate them while others are more sensitive towards their needs. But in general, the public want feral cats dealt with humanely. They realise that careless human cat ownership put them there in the first place and secondly, they are sentient beings. The ethical way to deal with feral cats is TNR. It is the only current way, but it requires a good investment and the involvement of the local authority.

This leads me nicely to another story from the same state, New Jersey, which reports that Bayonne's city council has decided to continue with a TNR program which is managed by the New Jersey Humane Society.


They have consistently put in sufficient funds (it seems to me) to run the program. This is a commitment from the local authority to fund TNR and they're using somebody who they respect, Geoffrey Santini, the city's animal control officer who works at the New Jersey Humane Society, to organise the TNR program.

Mr Santini is described by Bayonne's Municipal Services Director Suzanne Cavanaugh as a "lovely gentleman, and he is excellent at what he does. He is a true partner with the city of Bayonne."

That's how it should be done in my view. You have a city council or county council who are focused on TNR to control feral cat numbers. They fund it consistently and they work with the best people to arrange and manage the TNR programs.

According to the report, in the Hudson Reporter, the city has consistently funded TNR and recently agreed to an addendum to the ordnance to add a further $25,000 to the program. The program commenced, as I understand it, in April 2021 when it was funded with taxpayers money amounting to $54,123.

Comment: perhaps local administrators are realising that TNR is the only way forward. It has its flaws according to ornithologists and others because in essence you are putting feral cats back on the ground where they can continue to prey upon wildlife. But patience is required and consistency. Armed with these two qualities TNR works if funded properly.

It needs to be as widespread as possible to be as effective as possible. It is the only way to deal with feral cats currently until something better comes out such as contraception (drug placed in food) which doesn't work well enough.

There are other instances of councils trying to trap and kill feral cats, but they almost invariably end up with a backlash from the public who complain because, as stated, the majority of the public are against the cruelty of trap and kill policies.

Domestic cats caught in trap and kill programmes

And there is always the potential for killing a person's cat companion. There are still places where there are indoor/outdoor cats, and you cannot tell the difference between a feral cat and an outdoor domestic cat (pre-TNR which ear tips ferals). You don't want to kill someone's pet because that would be a catastrophe and it would open the doors to a criminal charge against the local authority for criminal damage.

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