Lavallette officials introduced an ordinance this week that would expand the borough’s prohibition on feeding wildlife to private property.
The ordinance, introduced Monday night, is largely in response to the town’s continued efforts to solve its feral cat issue. Volunteers have been credited with donating significant time putting together a “Trap, Neuter, Release” program in town, however those efforts can be interrupted when residents – even those well-intentioned – feed feral cats. Feeding other species can also cause issues.
Lavallette already has an ordinance on the books banning the feeding of wildlife, however it only covers wildlife found “in any public park, beach, place of resort or on any other property owned or operated by the Borough of Lavallette.” It defined wildlife as “all animals that are neither human nor domesticated.”
The revised ordinance “extends the ban to private property as well, and included in the types of wildlife are feral cats,” said Borough Administrator John O. Bennett.
The current code calls for violators to face fines of at least $100, but no more than $1,000.
“We did have an organization come out to help us with the [feral cat] problem, and they really have done a spectacular job,” said Mayor Walter LaCicero. “But the feral cat clusters can sometimes be linked to the people with good intentions who feed the cats every day.”
The feral cat issue was centered around President Avenue at its height two summers ago. While TNR programs have been credited with tamping down the problem significantly, Lavallette’s seasonal population means volunteers can be hard to come by in the winter months. Members of neighboring Brick Township’s TNR program have been contributing time and funds to help Lavallette. But sadly, at the end of each summer, it is found that some visitors leave their pets, particularly cats, behind when they leave. Others escape on their own and join the feral population.
A public hearing and second vote is required before the ordinance is formally adopted. That is scheduled to take place at the council’s next meeting, set for Dec. 4, 2023.