County commissioners hold meeting regarding feral cats

ESSEX COUNTY, NJ — On May 5, county Commissioner Tyshammie L. Cooper, who represents District 3 and is chairperson of the Essex County Commissioner Trap-Neuter-Return Committee, held a virtual meeting of the board’s TNR Committee to address the overpopulation of feral cats in communities throughout Essex County. In attendance were District 5 Commissioner Vice President Carlos M. Pomares, District 1 Commissioner Robert Mercado, District 4 Commissioner Leonard M. Luciano, Essex County administrator Robert Jackson, and members of the public representing the American Humane Society, St. Hubert’s Animal Welfare Center, People for Animals and Communities Promoting Animal Welfare of New Jersey. 

Items discussed during the meeting included an overview of Essex County’s TNR program, plans for the program going forward, and the role organizations and concerned citizens can play in addressing the feral cat issue. During the last two years, Essex County has increased the yearly financial allocations to the TNR program by 500 percent. Although funding has improved, the issues of loud noise, disease-carrying cats and traffic concerns arising from the overpopulation of feral cats are still prevalent — particularly in the communities of Belleville, Bloomfield, Newark, Orange and Irvington. Also discussed was the need for the organizations to provide metrics that show the effect of the TNR program. Quantifiable numbers that show a reduction in intake of cats at local shelters, or a reduction in complaints by residents about feral cats, will show that the TNR program is working, and will also show where future resources from the county should be allocated, according to a press release.

Organizations like the American Humane Society, which has partnered with Essex County for the last two years, and CPAW NJ, which has been giving virtual workshops to show prospective trappers techniques on the best way to trap cats and participate in the TNR process, have been working to improve the county’s TNR program. While the virtual workshops have been successful, community outreach to raise awareness about overpopulation issues remains at the forefront of what must be done to correct this problem.

“The AHS, CPAW NJ, People for Animals and other organizations have stepped up to help us deal with the overpopulation of feral cats,” Cooper said. “Thank you for helping us put together a comprehensive, structured, realistic plan to address this problem and the issues it is causing in our communities.”