Cats are an apex predator capable of hunting a wide range of native species.
The cats have decimated a small population of ganged fools in Eastbourne, and the Hutt city councilors have finally had enough.
On Monday, the Hutt City Council’s policy committee voted to support the introduction of a statute that would require cats to be microchipped and neutered.
Stuff first reported that a cat was cumming Striped Plover nests in 2019. It has continued to be a problem.
Nationwide, at least 26 councils have charters seeking to handle cats. In a report to the committee, policy adviser Angela Gordon noted that such statutes are difficult to enforce and potentially costly.
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“Since these statutes are difficult and expensive to enforce, many councils have chosen to adopt statutes without active enforcement, relying instead on voluntary compliance by cat owners.”
Education was one option to force cat owners to spay and microchip cats, but the council would face numerous challenges trying to enforce any rules regarding cats.
“Challenges would include: accessing private housing; practically determine the number of resident cats in a home; and trap, remove and care for detained cats. As noted above, several boards with charters do not actively implement them.”
Gordon told council members that preparing a bylaw would cost $100,000 and enforcing it would cost $100,000 per year.
Eastbourne Community Board member Frank Vickers said an ordinance was the best way to raise awareness and create an expectation that cat owners take responsibility for their cats.
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Pixies Animal Rescue founder Charmaine Wolmarans admits she’s dealt with too many animals during the Covid-19 pandemic. Many had to be sacrificed.
Native species are being decimated by cats, and Vickers noted that in Eastbourne only one of 13 goofy chicks had survived thanks to cats.
“This is a local tragedy and it is preventable.” Cats are an apex predator, he said, and a proper ordinance was needed to protect biodiversity.
Councilors expressed frustration that attempts to educate cat owners in Eastbourne about the need to keep cats locked up had been unsuccessful and fools had suffered as a result.
Councilor Simon Edwards said it was time to stop “dithering” over a statute.
“For too long our native wildlife has taken a backseat and I would really like to see some progress on this.”
The committee unanimously agreed to submit a charter, with officers instructed to speak with animal welfare groups and provide a budget in the 2024-2034 long-term plan.
Susan McNair, who runs the Kitten Inn cat charity, is looking for homes for more than 130 cats. She supports mandatory neutering, microchipping, and cat registration.
McNair believes the council needs to do more to control cats and that microchipping would be a good first step.
“I am all for microchipping because we have a lot of cats that are left here and people just say they are strays.”
They have brought her cats that are clearly not strays.
With so many kittens needing homes, McNair said neutering should also be mandatory, though he said some people couldn’t afford it.
The council, he said, could help finance the castration and would appreciate any help from the council.