Cape May, NJ (PRWEB) March 7, 2008
Alley Cat Allies, the national advocate for stray and feral cats, thanked the city of Cape May, N.J. for promising to save the lives of local outdoor cats by continuing to run the city's innovative Trap-Neuter-Return program as part of accepting a compromise federal beach management plan.
Alley Cat Allies and dozens of local supporters rallied in front of Cape May's City Hall on Tuesday before the City Council convened for a vote on the beach management plan. Alley Cat Allies also presented a petition to the City Council signed by over 9,000 supporters nationwide.
"Before their vote, Cape May city officials repeatedly stated their intention to protect the 12-year-old Trap-Neuter-Return program, and confirmed that it is an essential program that has been truly successful," said Becky Robinson, president of Alley Cat Allies. "Though we believe the City Council's intentions are good, we will be working with them and monitoring the situation to ensure the cats are kept safe. We are cautiously optimistic that this plan represents a fair compromise."
Before voting, city leaders acknowledged that the Trap-Neuter-Return program has received national and international recognition for humanely reducing the city's population of feral cats.
Implemented in 1995, with consultation by Alley Cat Allies and widespread support by local residents, Trap-Neuter-Return has reduced Cape May's stray and feral cat population by 80 percent, from around 450 cats to fewer than 100 today. The population continues to decline, and many residents say the remaining cats are vital to the fabric of the city.
Cape May was one of the first local governments to implement Trap-Neuter-Return as official policy. Previously, outdoor cats had been routinely caught and killed in an unsuccessful attempt to keep their numbers down.
But the town came under pressure last year by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to abolish the program as part of a federal beach management plan that in theory is intended to protect nesting shorebirds. City officials and local residents resisted, noting that cats were not harming the birds.
Under the plan passed by the city, any cats who may live near shorebird nests are either moved 1,000 feet from the area or humanely contained. Any outdoor cats who might not yet be neutered and vaccinated by the city will be included in the long-running Trap-Neuter-Return program. Volunteer caregivers may continue to care for the cats.
Robinson noted that several components of the compromise beach management plan were brought to the table just last week, and it is very likely the city will need assistance in carrying out what it has promised - including relocation or containment of some feral cats, which can be difficult.
"Cape May city serves as an important example for spay and neuter as the most effective and humane course of action for outdoor cats," Robinson said. "The overwhelming support we have seen in Cape May and nationally for Trap-Neuter-Return is verification that people don't support the cruelty of 'catch and kill'."
About Alley Cat Allies
The mission of Alley Cat Allies is to protect the lives and promote the wellbeing of stray and feral cats. Their Web site is http://www.alleycat.org.