WDV seeks tougher cat by­law

Kit­tens ex­empt as new reg­u­la­tions in­clude limit on how many cats can be kept if neigh­bours com­plain

Hawke's Bay Today - - LOCAL NEWS - Chris­tine McKay

Woodville Districts Vi­sion is pleased with the Tararua District Coun­cil’s de­ci­sion to bring in a new cat by­law, but it wants it to have more teeth.

“We’re ap­plaud­ing the coun­cil, but we’d en­cour­age them to also con­sider mi­crochip­ping, de­sex­ing and fur­ther reg­u­lat­ing do­mes­tic own­er­ship of cats in our towns,” WDV chair­woman Robin Win­ter said.

Win­ter would like to see a pro­gramme sim­i­lar to that which op­er­ates at Pukaha Mt Bruce to deal with the un­wanted cats.

“Many wild and feral cats are trapped and eu­thanised on a reg­u­lar ba­sis at Pukaha Mt Bruce, to pro­tect the wildlife in the re­serve.

“This is just the same for the wild birds and lizards in our com­mu­nity, they also need to be pro­tected from a grow­ing pop­u­la­tion of feral cats. De­sex­ing such cats, which is the SPCA’s an­swer to the is­sue, doesn’t re­move the threat to our wildlife.”

In a re­write of its by­laws, the coun­cil has in­cluded con­trols for those who own more than three cats where com­plaints are re­ceived, or if they are of­fen­sive to the oc­cu­piers of a neigh­bour­ing prop­erty, a threat to pub­lic health, an en­dan­ger­ment to neigh­bour­ing an­i­mals, or if they may be­come a nui­sance, in­ju­ri­ous or haz­ardous.

Young kit­tens aren’t in­cluded as part of the cat num­bers in the by­law.

“The ma­jor is­sue is around the health of cats and if the size of a prop­erty is small for the num­ber of cats then they tend to mi­grate more than nor­mal,” Peter Wim­sett, coun­cil’s man­ager of strat­egy and district de­vel­op­ment, said.

“Cats do wan­der and that doesn’t make them a nui­sance. But mi­crochip­ping would add a great deal of cost.”

In 2015, as Woodville strug­gled to cope with an in­va­sion of stray cats, a trap­ping and culling pro­gramme was put in place by WDV after re­ports of mog­gies fight­ing, steal­ing food and spread­ing dis­ease.

With no one able to get near the strays they weren’t able to be de­sexed and were re­pro­duc­ing in great num­bers.

How­ever, within weeks a halt was called to cap­tur­ing the nui­sance cats and having them eu­thanised as vol­un­teers car­ry­ing out the trap­ping be­came the tar­get of abuse.

“They were be­ing talked about as if they were mur­der­ers and there was no need for it,” Win­ter said at the time.

Last May, fed up with feral and aban­doned cats in the area, district coun­cil­lor Peter Johns, who lives in Woodville, in­sisted the coun­cil “stop muck­ing around” and bring in a by­law to deal to the feral and aban­doned cats plagu­ing his town. Norse­wood cat lover Lyn McConchie said she be­lieved the coun­cil’s by­law was fair. “How­ever, I also think the coun­cil need to add a per­mis­si­ble vari­ance, some­thing along the lines of, ‘should all neigh­bours agree to a larger num­ber of cats in the case of a breeder, or a res­cue per­son having the an­i­mals on a tem­po­rary ba­sis, that should be con­sid­ered by the coun­cil on a one-off ba­sis’. “If there is agree­ment by all con­cerned, this should be per­mit­ted, sub­ject to per­mis­sion be­ing with­drawn on 48 hours’ no­tice if there are ver­i­fi­able com­plaints,” she said.

Wim­sett said it had taken the coun­cil two years to get its by­law in place.

“By­laws are dif­fi­cult to in­tro­duce for coun­cils try­ing to con­trol cats, as own­ers aren’t reg­is­tered,” he said.

“There’s also the def­i­ni­tion be­tween stray cats which have no home and wan­der­ing cats who are do­ing just what cats do.

“Cats are im­por­tant to peo­ple and con­trol­ling stray and feral cats is the key.”

Wim­sett said peo­ple needed to be aware there were also le­gal obli­ga­tions when trap­ping cats to find the le­gal owner.

Pho­tos / Chris­tine McKay

Norse­wood’s Lyn McConchie with Thun­der, her oci­cat. McConchie be­lieves the new by­law is fair, but would like some vari­ance to the rules.

Robin Win­ter, Woodville Districts Vi­sion’s chair­woman, is ask­ing the Tararua District Coun­cil to strengthen its re­cently in­tro­duced cat by­law.

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