Pet cats could be banned from a village in New Zealand as part of radical new proposals designed to protect native wildlife.
Under Environment Southland’s “pest plan”, cat owners in the small coastal village of Omaui will have to neuter, microchip and register their pets with the local authority.
After their cat dies, they will not be allowed to get another.
The proposals have angered local residents, who accused the council of behaving “like a police state”.
But the local authority want to protect 230 hectares of lowland and bush on Omaui that is home to small native birds including the fantail, brown creeper, grey warbler, shining cuckoo and kingfisher, as well as larger ones such as the tui.
Biosecurity operations manager Ali Meade told national news outlet Newshub: “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.”
Submissions on the Southland regional pest management plan can be made until 23 October, but residents have already said they will petition against the proposals.
Nico Jarvis told the Otago Daily Times that owning a cat was the only way to manage rat infestations in the area.
‘’If I cannot have a cat, it almost becomes unhealthy for me to live in my house,’’ she said.
The local community understood the argument for conservation, she said, “but I think long term, the ramifications of this are not something that even non-cat owners will be comfortable with. It’s like a police state.”
Anyone violating the ban will be told to remove the cat, and as an ”absolute last resort’’ Environment Southland will take the cat from its owner, according to officials.
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