HomeMt Laurel NewsResidents, animal activists provide solution to feral cat conundrum in Mt. Laurel

Residents, animal activists provide solution to feral cat conundrum in Mt. Laurel

Three letters could spell a solution for the issue regarding feral cats in Mt. Laurel.

A group of residents and animal activists from around the area came out to last Monday’s Mt. Laurel council meeting to propose an alternative to a feeding ban for feral animals.

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The group of residents asked the township to establish a trap, neuter and release, or TNR, program. Under such a program, resident volunteers would catch young feral cats, take them to a local animal hospital to be neutered and receive their necessary shots and vaccinations, and release them into the outdoors.

“Trap, neuter and release is the only way to control feral cats,” resident Al Martino said.

At its May 4 meeting, council discussed a possible ordinance fining residents who are caught feeding feral cats. Township clerk Meredith Tomczyk said Burlington County officials recommended the township pass the ordinance for both health and safety reasons.

Mayor Irwin Edelson said TNR was something he had not known about prior to last Monday. Maureen Koplow, a resident from Deptford, provided Edelson and council with information on how a TNR program could work in Mt. Laurel. Koplow said TNR would allow the cats to exist in their natural outdoor home and helps control the population.

“Burlington County has TNR programs in a number of towns,” Koplow said.

Al Chernoff is a Philadelphia resident who operates Alley Cat Animal Rescue and has handled various cat colonies in the area. He endorsed TNR and said the township could receive grants for having such a program.

Resident Tina Wilson also said the township could benefit greatly. She was one of a number of residents who said they would volunteer to help trap, neuter and release the cats. She said a TNR program would allow Mt. Laurel to serve as an example for other surrounding municipalities.

“A program needs to be set in place,” Wilson said. “A feeding ban is not appropriate.”

A number of residents said a feeding ban would exacerbate the issue. Bill Josko, a Mt. Laurel resident who volunteers with the Animal Welfare Association, said a feeding ban could cause feral cats to starve and die while not solving the issue of possible overpopulation.

“We believe it is the wrong approach and makes it worse for animals and citizens,” he said.

Resident Wayne Person added those feeding the feral cats may continue to do so even if a ban were in place, defeating the purpose of a potential ordinance.

“We don’t want to be in a position where people say ‘I’m going to feed the animals regardless,’” he said.

Members of council acknowledged they learned a lot about TNR, and it would be considered when addressing the issue.

Edelson said council is nowhere near ready to make a decision on how to proceed with feral cats and said it will be some time before the governing body makes a decision on how to proceed.

“We have a lot of homework to do,” he said.

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