Cat lovers in Omaui may never own a new cat again, if Environment Southland’s proposed ban on cats to protect the area’s biodiversity passes.
Biosecurity operations manager Ali Meade said trail cameras in the remote Southland community between Bluff and Invercargill prove native flora and fauna would see drastic improvement if cats were banned. "There's cats getting into the native bush; they're preying on native birds, they're taking insects, they're taking reptiles—all sorts of things. They're doing quite a bit of damage."
Unsurprisingly, not all locals agree and say they will “actively petition” against the ban. Resident Nico Jarvis said she would refuse to comply with the council's rules because owning three cats was her only way to fight the “intense” rodent problem in the area, she told the Otago Daily Times .
"It doesn't matter how many [rodents] I trap and poison, more just keep coming in from the bush. They chew into your house, you can't get rid of them… If I cannot have a cat, it almost becomes unhealthy for me to live in my house," she said.
The plan calls for all domestic cats currently living in the area to be neutered, microchipped and registered. Once a cat dies, Omaui residents will not be allowed to replace it with another.
Omaui Landcare Charitable Trust chairman John Collins, who pushed for the ban, said he had witnessed native birds “ripped to pieces” by cats on his front lawn. Omaui was a “high-value conservation area” so it was simply not a place for cats if we wanted native animals to thrive, he said.
Submissions on the Southland regional pest management plan close on October 23.
This article originally appeared on VICE NZ.