Byram to crack down on those who aid wild cats

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:48

    BYRAM-To help the feral cat problem plaguing Byram, the township plans to use a state law that prevents people from feeding and giving water to wild cats. Township Manager Gregory Poff delivered the proposal to the township's board of health this week. "There is already a state law which prevents feeding wild animals," said Poff. "The suggestion is to make some amendments to the code to be able to levy summons to those who feed them." Large colonies of feral cats have taken up residence in several areas around the township. The cats create a nuisance because they generate a great deal of animal waste. In addition, because they are not spayed or neutered, they spray to mark their territory, which creates unpleasant odors. And they often fight, which creates a lot of noise, especially at night. The township's policy has been to trap the cats and put them in a shelter for the time required by law before they can be euthanized. But its attempts have not been successful. "The problem is that these cats are well-fed and not interested in the food placed in the traps," said Poff. That's because there is an extensive network of local feral cat caregivers that provides food and water. Some provide assistance because they feel sorry for the animals. Others feed them to support the Trap-Neuter-Return program, which sterilizes and vaccinates feral cats before returning them to their habitat, where a caregiver then monitors them. Kittens and tame or socialized stray cats are removed from the colony and put up for adoption. Local citizens have received grants from the New Jersey Animal Rights Alliance to cover some of the costs of the Trap-Neuter-Return program. They said they have met with much success. Volunteer Liz Gargano said 14 cats have been adopted and many have been sterilized and returned to their habitat in the last several months. She and other volunteers are petitioning the township to give them more time to continue. They are asking the township to join them in supporting the same program. But Byram is moving forward on a different track. "While there is evidence to suggest [the trap-neuter-return program] is somewhat successful,at this point I will recommend to go forward with stricter statutes against feeding wildlife, Poff said. The full council will review the recommendation at the next meeting, to be held June 6.