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Islip’s Trap-Neuter-Release program for feral cats moves ahead

In 1664, the settler Matthias Nicoll named the

In 1664, the settler Matthias Nicoll named the town after his village of Islip in Northamptonshire, England. Credit: Erin Geismar

Islip Town’s recently developed Trap-Neuter-Return program to humanely reduce the number of feral cats throughout the municipality will be rolled out in full starting in April following a “soft launch” of the initiative in February.

Last year, several residents and animal activists attended multiple Town Board meetings with pleas to help with feral cat issues across the town, from East Islip to Boehmia and Bay Shore.

Many said had been using their own money to care for feral cat colonies near their homes. James Heil, commissioner to the town’s environmental control department, worked with local experts to come up with the plan, which was finalized in the fall.

Over the course of two consecutive weekends last month, a total of 57 cats were neutered/spayed and vaccinated against diseases that can be harmful to both humans and household pets, the town said in a news release.

“I’m pleased to report that the Town has been able to implement this program, which stemmed from numerous meetings and public input,” Islip Town Supervisor Angie Carpenter said in a statement. “We have always sought a humane solution to the feral cat situation in our Town...”

The Locust Valley-based Animal Lovers League, which has helped the towns of Brookhaven, Hempstead and North Hempstead develop TNR programs, has joined the town’s efforts for this program.

Joan Phillips, president of the Animal Lovers League, called the TNR program “a bold step forward.”

“The population explosion of cats can’t be solved with a band-aid or token funding. It needs to be addressed with an all-out effort,” Phillips said.

A webpage dedicated to the program is currently in development stages and will soon be included on the town’s website, Heil said, along with an awareness campaign to be placed on the website and various town social media pages to get the word out.

The town received about $60,000 in donations to the animal shelter for general purposes that will go toward the TNR program, said Heil, adding that donations are still being accepted. Meanwhile, the Animal Lovers League has donated matching funds totaling $60,000 for the program, Heil said.

“The suffering of these animals and the impact to the quality of life of our residents will be drastically improved thanks to the TNR program,” Islip Town Councilwoman Trish Bergin Weichbrodt said.

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