Update July 16: Camden, New Jersey’s city council has given first round approval to a plan to implement trap neuter return in the city.Â
Under the proposed ordinance, caregivers would register with animal control and be responsible for trapping and spaying or neutering the cats, obtaining vaccinations and otherwise maintaining the colony.
Animal control would be required to work with caregivers if a feralÂ cat became a "nuisance" rather than simply impound the animal.Â
Proponents of TNR urged the council to turn oversight of the TNR program to an independent board or a non-profit. Animal control, though, would like to maintain control.Â
Everyone agrees the program will save and improve cats’ lives, reduce the population of feral cats and save the city money. Currently, the city spends $55 every time a cat is impounded and euthanized.Â Â Â Â Â
by Michelle Lerner, Attorney, Policy Specialist for Project TNR
Project TNR (Trap-Neuter- Release) applauds the Old Bridge Animal Rights Association (OBARA) for reaching out to the community to offer its services in managing the township’s feral-cat population.
Throughout New Jersey, forward thinking town officials are increasingly seeking to develop TNR programs to manage feral cats, and Old Bridge Township would do well to enlist the support of OBARA in its efforts to control feral cats through this humane, effective and cost-effective management program.
TNR involves trapping all cats in an area and adopting out the kittens and friendly adult cats. Feral adult cats that cannot be tamed are neutered and vaccinated against rabies before being returned to their habitat.
More than 100 municipalities in New Jersey now implement or endorse this strategy because they realize it is the most effective and cheapest way to reduce the number of feral cats. The TNR program in Atlantic City has reduced its feral cats by more than 40 percent. Some municipal programs have reduced populations by 75 percent or more. The National Animal Control Association (NACA), which once opposed TNR, now supports it for these reasons. The New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services describes TNR as an integral component of feral-cat management. Gov. Jim McGreevey’s Task Force on Animal Welfare, the Humane Society of the United States and the ASPCA recommend and endorse it.
There is a common misconception that towns can eliminate feral cats by trapping, removing and killing. But that is a practical impossibility that has never happened and never will. The reason is simple: it requires too much labor and is too expensive.
To reduce feral-cat numbers, it is necessary to trap every cat, as any cats left untrapped will repopulate the area in no time. But trapping every cat takes the work of a team of people. The area must be monitored beforehand to identify all cats, the trapping can take many hours over a series of days, and monitoring must continue so that any new cats can be trapped. No single animal control department can accomplish this throughout a municipality. And even if it could, it could not afford to pay for it.
The president of the New Jersey Animal Control Officers Association estimates that towns pay a minimum of $49 to hold one cat for the seven days required by state law. Some towns pay more than $100 to hold each cat. Towns also pay upwards of $35 to euthanize each cat, with additional fees for body disposal. In total, it costs New Jersey municipalities $85-$200 to trap and kill each feral cat.
For economic reasons, towns send their animal-control officers to trap and kill cats in response to specific complaints. But this does not reduce feral-cat numbers, since the remaining cats reproduce and quickly replace the ones that have been killed. The president of NACA calls this approach "bailing the ocean with a thimble."
TNR works because individuals and nonprofits volunteer the significant labor it takes to identify and trap every cat in an area, continue monitoring for new arrivals, and adopt out kittens and friendly adults.
TNR also works because neutering feral cats is much cheaper than killing them. Low-cost clinics around the state will neuter feral cats for amounts ranging from $0-$55 each.
Once neutered, the cats stop reproducing and die off naturally. They also stop mating-related nuisance behaviors like fighting, spraying, roaming, etc.
TNR also helps wildlife. The best way to prevent cats from killing birds and rodents is to reduce cat populations as quickly and effectively as possible. TNR is the way to do this. This is why Gov. Jon Corzine’s environmental transition team recommended TNR. It is also why the New Jersey Audubon Society and the New Jersey Endangered and Nongame Species Program are working with New Jersey Animal Rights Alliance, the Humane Society of the United States and Neighborhood Cats on TNR guidelines to protect wildlife.
(This article first appeared in The Suburban,Â Greater MediaÂ Newspapers, reprinted with permission.)Â
It is the goal of Project TNR to introduce Trap-Neuter-Return as the humane, effective and cost effective method of controlling feral cat populations. Project TNR is a comprehensive program that will result in lower animal control costs, fewer to no births, reduction of nuisance complaints by residents and alleviation of public health concerns.