Auck­land Coun­cil plans for cat culling

Western Leader - - OUT & ABOUT - JAMES PASLEY

Cats with­out mi­crochips found roam­ing in sen­si­tive en­vi­ron­ments will be killed un­der Auck­land Coun­cil’s new pest erad­i­ca­tion pro­gramme.

Auck­land Coun­cil is propos­ing to spend $307 mil­lion over the next 10 years to rein in the re­gion’s pests and pro­tect its ecosys­tems and threat­ened species.

The plan will clar­ify when a cat is a pest based on whether or not it is mi­cro-chipped, which will help iden­tify stray cats.

Any cat found in an ‘‘eco­log­i­cally sig­nif­i­cant site’’ with­out a mi­crochip could be eu­thanised.

Auck­land Coun­cil said ap­prox­i­mately one third of cats in New Zealand are mi­crochipped, but there are no Auck­land statis­tics be­cause it is a vol­un­tary pro­ce­dure.

Auck­land Coun­cil en­vi­ron­men­tal ad­vi­sory man­ager Imo­gen Bas­sett told coun­cil­lors at the en­vi­ron­ment and com­mu­nity com­mit­tee on Tues­day that it was a ‘‘very po­lar­is­ing is­sue’’.

‘‘We’ve tried to bal­ance peo­ple’s rights and the value of do­mes­tic cats with man­ag­ing their im­pacts in high value ar­eas to pro­tect na­tive species,’’ Bas­sett said.

At the same meet­ing Auck­land coun­cil­lor Daniel New­man said it would dom­i­nate the forth­com­ing re­gional pest de­bate.

‘‘I can un­der­stand the value of the propo­si­tion here, but I don’t nec­es­sar­ily be­lieve that the com­mu­nity it­self is go­ing to fully ap­pre­ci­ate that,’’ New­man said.

‘‘There’s a high premium on the value of the do­mes­tic mog. Are you ready for the re­sponse from the com­mu­nity?

‘‘The best com­mu­ni­ca­tion strat­egy un­der the sun is not go­ing to al­lay all con­cerns.’’

Auck­land Coun­cil biose­cu­rity man­ager Phil Brown said feral cats were al­ready clas­si­fied as pests.

‘‘It’s not a re­ac­tive Brown said.

‘‘It will be well planned at spe­cific sites of eco­log­i­cal sig­nif­i­cance where rats, pos­sums and other pests are also be­ing man­aged.’’

Cats were a dan­ger to the sur­vival of nu­mer­ous threat­ened pro­gramme,’’ species in­clud­ing black pe­trel, Cook’s pe­trel, dot­terels and kiwi, Brown said.

All 21 lo­cal boards sup­ported the pro­posed ap­proach to cat man­age­ment.

The pro­posed plan will be open to pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion early next year.

CHAR­LOTTE CURD/ STUFF

Any cat found in an ‘‘eco­log­i­cally sig­nif­i­cant site’’ with­out a mi­crochip could be eu­thanised if the re­gional plan goes ahead.

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