How to get the best of both worlds of keeping cats and environment protection?
Cats are one of human’s favorite pets, but in order to protect native biodiversity, the Omaui community in New Zealand’s South Island and Stewart Island proposed to ban cats, which move is a world first. The proposal sparked controversy not only in New Zealand but also globally.
Environmental Southland proposed to ban cats
On August 28th, the New Zealand Environment Southland issued an announcement through its official website to solicit public opinion about the Regional Pest Management Plan up to October 23rd.
According to the plan, domestic cats in the Stewart Island and Omaui communities who turned or over 6 months need to be neuter, install microchips and register with the ESou. The authorities said that in the first year the local government will provide subsidies for the microchip programs in this two communities. And once a cat dies, the owner in the community would not be allowed to get a new one, except for Bengal cats, if the owner applied for a permission.
According to Omaui biosecurity operations manager Ali Meade, domestic cats are wreaking havoc on the local native bush and nature reserves, including preying on native birds and killing reptiles and insects. The ESou believes that this move will have a positive impact on native biodiversity.
How serious the cat problem is?
The debate about cat and local ecosystems is not limited to New Zealand. Environmental scientists have long warned about the impact of wild and free-range cats on the global ecosystem. Cats have be listed into the world’s 100 worst non-native invasive species.
The manager of the American Smithsonian Migratory Bird Centre, Peter Marra said the extinction of 63 species worldwide was linked to a surge in cat populations. In areas such as New Zealand where ecosystems are very sensitive and vulnerable, the problem is even more serious. Although it sounds extreme, the situation of New Zealand has gone out of control.
According to the NZ Companion Animal Council, New Zealanders had 1.13 million cats in 2016, with an average of 1.5 per household. In addition, the NZ government estimates that alien species bring a loss of NZ$3.3 billion to the New Zealand Ministry of Economy and Primary Industries each year.
Local residents: the cat ban is like what police state will do
The proposals have angered local residents. Nico Jarvis, a local resident who has three cats said that her cats are the only way to solve a rodent problem in the area. If she cannot have a cat, it becomes unhealthy for her to live in the house.
She said most of local residents will actively petition and have accused the council of behaving “like a police state”. “It is not even regulating people’s ability to have a cat. It’s saying you can’t have a cat.”
It is the fact that cats will wreak havoc on local environment, but people also need cat to tackle the intense rodent problem in the area. People may not need to make a choice between the native birds, wildlife, insects and the cat. Government should search for a win-win solution instead of forbidding people to raise a cat. If you have any helpful opinion, please tell us in the comment.