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Forest & Bird calls for night-time cat curfews

Domestic cats roam for days. Do their owners know about their predation on shorebirds? (File photo)

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Domestic cats roam for days. Do their owners know about their predation on shorebirds? (File photo)

A Golden Bay environmental organisation is calling for a year-round cat curfew from sunset to sunrise, saying that cat owners have to “face up” to the damage their pets cause.

Forest & Bird Golden Bay, submitting during the early engagement phase of the Tasman District Council’s proposed cat bylaw, wants all domestic cats sterilised, microchipped and registered, but it also argued the case for “catios”, or outdoor cat enclosures.

Golden Bay branch chairperson Cynthia McConville said the night-time curfew was important, in her view, as trail footage at Parawhakaoho and Rototai recorded the activity of wandering cats at night, predating on birds, eggs and nests.

From looking at community Facebook groups, it was clear how many domestic cats were roaming for “days and days and days”.

The cost of microchipping, she said, was “miniscule” in comparison to the usual costs of keeping a cat, such as veterinary bills and food.

“I think cat owners have to really face up and realise the damage that their pets are doing,” McConville said.

“And I do believe a lot of them don’t know or don’t understand about the predation of shorebirds, particularly in Golden Bay. There certainly needs to be far better controls, and at the moment there are none.”

The group’s submission also drew attention to the “significant threat” that toxoplasmosis, spread into the environment via cat faeces, posed to Hectors dolphins, and the “only solution” was cat containment.

The council was taking steps towards introducing a cat management bylaw requiring microchipping and chip registration of domestic cats.

Tasman District Council communications officer Darryn Palmer said early engagement on the proposed cat bylaw closed on December 14.

Feedback would be collated and analysed, and then a draft bylaw would be put together and go out for consultation, followed by hearings.

There were no strict timeframes on that, and the introduction of a bylaw could be around the middle of the year, he said.

A question asking which options companion cat owners would support had 1500 replies, which Palmer described as a “massive” amount of feedback.

Luke Nola and Friends

Not to be confused with your friendly neighbourhood kitty, feral cats live and breed in the wild, hunting for survival and killing native birds in the process.

The council’s Dog Control Bylaw, which covered exercise areas for dogs and had to be reviewed by November, also generated a lot of input, with 1820 people making a comment or dropping a pin on a map to show where they thought dog exercise areas should be.

A draft bylaw would be workshopped with councillors in February, and would go out for public submissions and hearings.

The cat management space had proven contentious in the past. Special projects analyst for biosecurity Paul Sheldon wrote in a report that councils and organisations had received threats from members of the community while dealing with the issue.


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