North Taranaki Midweek
Tourists pinged with cats in packs in park
Tourists busted putting jacketwearing domestic cats into their backpacks while on Taranaki Maunga could be fined.
Department of Conservation senior ranger Dave Rogers said one of his staff did a double-take when she encountered the pet cats wearing jackets and being carried in backpacks.
When approached, the owners, who were visiting from Auckland, said they weren’t aware of the rules, which prohibit pets in the National Park.
DOC is also reminding others visiting to the region’s mountain to leave their pets at home.
Dogs, rabbits, cats and even a parrot have been brought into Egmont National Park by visitors in recent months, Rogers said.
He said cats and all other domestic animals were not allowed in the National Park as they pose a threat to endangered birds such as kiwi and whio, and other native species including geckos and insects.
‘‘Bringing a pet into the park may seem a harmless thing to do but it has potentially deadly consequences for our native wildlife, particularly should the pets run loose or escape from their owners’ control.’’
Rogers said conservation land was vitally important for the survival of endangered species.
Many native birds are flightless and have few or no defences against predation, he said.
‘‘A dog can sniff out and kill a kiwi with ease. Uncontrolled dogs and cats can severely impact our native wildlife. Even the most docile and well-controlled pet can instinctively kill.’’
Controlling pet access also protects and respects other people’s right to use and enjoy public conservation land, Rogers said.
DOC said the Aucklanders could face a fine. Under the
National Parks Act owners found with pets in Egmont National Park may be issued an instant fine of up to $800.
Serious or repeat offenders may face prosecution and a fine of up to $100,000 or up to a year in prison. A pet may be seized and impounded if it is found in a National Park or controlled area without a permit.
Anyone seeing a domestic animal in the park can contact their local DOC office or phone 0800 DOC HOT.
The Aucklanders are not the first to court controversy on the mountain, which will be recognised as legal a person as part of a
Treaty of Waitangi settlement deal currently being worked on.
In 2011, a group of 25 young climbers took a barbecue to the summit of the mountain but were later condemned for their actions, which were labelled a tapu offence.
Then in 2013, a group took a trampoline to the Pouakai Ranges, which also raised eyebrows.
And in 2017, Playboy Playmate Jaylene Cook posted a photo of herself posing nude at the summit on social media, behaviour that offended Māori in the region and was labelled ‘‘inappropriate’’ at the time by Stratford mayor Neil Volzke.