By DUSTIN RACIOPPI
Borough officials hope to have a program in place before the start of breeding season, which typically begins around February and can last for ten months.
“There are a lot of kittens roaming around right now,” Councilwoman Dina Long said. “Now we have to catch them.”
The program’s launch was delayed for the summer because Fish & Wildlife threatened to impose fines on the borough, arguing that releasing cats back onto the beach a popular cat hangout would endanger the piping plover population.
While those threats still loom, Long says the ordinance has been revised in such a way to avoid the service’s wrath. She said the borough made “significant changes” to the original ordinance, the largest being that cats simply won’t be returned to the beach.
And that’s fine, because the wild-cat population is largest near the Shrewsbury River, not on the ocean beach, Long said.
“Making these concessions on the beach will allow us to focus on our problem down by the river,” she said. “It gives Sea Bright time for the SPCA to get out there and start trapping.”
Under the program, the Monmouth County SPCA will round up cats, neuter or spay them, tag them with microchips and release them near the river, where the cats will be managed by registered “caregivers” people who give food and water to the cats.
The program won’t take effect until the ordinance passes a second and third reading, so Long hopes for the end of October to get the partnership started.