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Bayonne’s ‘trap, neuter, and return’ program sets out to curb feral cat population

The program is funded by $25,000 from the 2021 municipal budget

A feral cat sits behind a fence between the terminus of West 9th Street and the shoreline along Newark Bay. Photos by Daniel Israel.

Bayonne’s trap, neuter, and return (TNR) program is officially in full swing.

The City Council unanimously approved a resolution at its November meeting revising its contract with the New Jersey Humane Society Corp. for animal control services regarding the TNR program.

The addendum to the contract clarifies the scope of the company’s services for the TNR program and ensures it conforms to the city’s ordinance. The addendum also clarifies that the amount for the TNR is “not to exceed” $25,000.

In April of 2021, the council first entered into the contract with the West New York-based company for an Animal Control Officer and Animal Shelter Services from May 1, 2021 to December 31, 2021 for $54,123. Officials said this was a cost-saving switch from previous contractor Liberty Humane Society of Jersey City.

Geoffrey Santini of the NJ Humane Society is the city’s Animal Control Officer, with a no-kill animal shelter in West New York. With a new Animal Control Officer, the city began setting up a TNR program with Santini as far back as September of 2021.

In March of 2022, the council renewed the contract, extending it through December 31, 2022 for an additional amount not to exceed $81,185. This brought the contract to $135,309.

In order to authorize the TNR program, the council had to enter into a second amendment to the contract with the NJ Humane Soceity for an additional amount of $25,000. The council approved that resolution back in April, and subsequently approved an ordinance in September further outlining the TNR program

The $25,000 was allocated for the program from the 2021 municipal budget. City Council President Gary La Pelusa advocated for that amount, with a $5,000 increase from the $20,000 that was initially set aside.

TNR in operation now

Municipal Services Director Suzanne Cavanaugh said the “go-date” for the program was Wednesday, November 9.

“We’re very happy to be at this point to provide that service for the city of Bayonne,” Cavanaugh said. “We’ve been working closely with Mr. Santini from New Jersey Humane, lovely gentleman, and he’s excellent at what he does. He is a true partner with the city of Bayonne.”

A resident asked whether the city had been getting any calls from residents about feral cat colonies, considering the outpouring of residents when the ordinance authorizing the program was approved. Cavanaugh said the city is cooperating with locals.

“We’re working together with those groups in order to get the job done,” Cavanaugh said. “We want to be more inclusive of the community, and we’re happy to work with those groups.”

She said more information about the program would be made to the public.

A feral cat sits a top the roof of a car in Bayonne.

“We will be presenting through [Public Information Officer Joe] Ryan, and our website as well, the process, so the public knows what the process is,” Cavanaugh said. “We already have a list of those groups that were here that night and some of the other people that are going to come in and help us coordinate those efforts.”

Cavanaugh said she would welcome any additional funding from the council for the program in the future. She said that the city would also look for other means to fund the program.

“Wherever we can get that money from, we’ll try to shake the tree and have that happen,” Cavanaugh said.

For updates on this and other stories, check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Daniel Israel can be reached at disrael@hudsonreporter.com.

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