What are wildlife carers saying about roaming domestic cats?
Kate Randolph, Secretary, Hunter Wildlife Rescue, writes:
Hunter Wildlife Rescue (NATF Inc.) is the National Parks and Wildlife Service licensed wildlife group located in the lower Hunter Valley. Hunter Wildlife Rescues covers four Local Government Areas and has been providing services since 1974. Hunter Wildlife Rescue is a volunteer organisation that operates a 24/7 service that rescues, rehabilitates, and releases native fauna.
One of the biggest threats to our native fauna in all regions is roaming domestic cats. The friendly house cat becomes a stealthy killer of native wildlife, often killing for play as it is not reliant on wildlife for food. Hunter Wildlife Rescue encounters the devastating effects daily, with multiple animals coming in either with life threating wounds or are left orphaned as their mothers have been killed by a cat. This is both devastating to our wildlife and to our volunteers.
We have witnessed the complete devastation of colonies of animals such as Gliders that were once abundant in Lake Macquarie. These colonies were decimated due to local introduced pet cats in these areas hunting them at night when they [native animals] are foraging for food. Our data reflects this; over 345 species of native fauna has been directly impacted or killed by domestic house cats in the last two years. This year (2021) alone 143 species have come into care with only 41 surviving out of the thousands of animals. Some of the species included reptiles, frogs, birds, possums, gliders, bandicoots, and small native rodents.
The NSW Companion Animal act does not protect our wildlife. Dogs owners are fined for dogs that are roaming free and/or dogs that kill wildlife. Why is this rule not applied to cats, who have a greater impact on native wildlife?
Hunter Wildlife Rescue requests that the act be amended to allow local councils to impose a cat curfew where cats must be housed inside or in a secured enclosure outside. We request the cat curfew further be applied to any housing development in Munibung Hill, Lake Macquarie. This area is primary habitat for many species of wildlife previously untouched by domestic animals. If cats were allowed to roam free there the results would be devastating. — Kate Randolph.
The calls for action extend across Australia. Far North Queensland Wildlife Rescue president Beau Peberdy said it was time that Far North Queensland councils took similar action to those in Victoria and the ACT.
“I think cat curfews and tougher laws should be introduced Australia-wide,” he said.
“I don’t think there should be a curfew, but rather cats should be kept indoors or in adequate enclosures at their own homes at all times.”
MHCS agrees and we will continue campaigning for this to be the case in NSW. We hope that Lake Mac Council, being the far sighted Council that it is, will add their voice to the cause.
MMM … Issue 26, February 2022