In this small village in New Zealand, cats are not doing too well. Deemed dangerous for the nature on the outskirts of Omaui, tomcats are no longer welcome here, to the point that the town is considering forbidding its thirty inhabits from having one.
In Omaui in New Zealand, the town hall has declared war against the domestic cats, accused for damaging the local nature. In fact, apparently these felines are threatening the extinction of birds, rodents, and little reptiles that live in this region at the extreme south of the archipelago.
Here’s what John Collins, president of the Association of Nature Conservation in New Zealand and supporter of the project, explained to the BBC: “We don’t hate cats! We just want to protect the wild and rich nature in our neighbouring natural reserve.”
The problem, as explained by the specialists, is the owners who leave their cats to wander alone in the nature where they can cause serious damage.
Much to the dismay of their lovers, the domestic cat is classed among the top 100 non-natives species in the world that are the most invasive. In Australia for example, studies have estimated that domestic cats are the reason for the death of 53 million reptiles and more than 60 million birds a year. For Mr Collins and his colleagues, it is imperative to ban these animals from Omaui to preserve the birds and the 63 other species of small mammals living in the outskirts.
With this in mind, the mayor has put in place a veritable plan of attack against 72 predators, including the domestic cat. The former plans, first of all, on asking cat owners to sterilise their pets but also putting an electronic chip on them and declaring them to the town hall in order to have more control over them.
And if it’s truly out of the question to ask to have the felines euthanised, the owners will nonetheless be requested to not adopt a new cat until their current cat reaches its death. Alternatively, the animals will be gathered up and exiles. The objective is to get rid of all village cats in the next 15 years.
A controversial stance
From the owners’ point of view, the new measure imposed by the municipality is unsurprisingly far from popular. According to the locals, the idea is profoundly unjust and they doubt whether it will have any impact of the preservation of the local nature, which they believe to be more threatened by intensive agriculture and use of pesticides and insecticides than by their feline companions.
Cat lovers have also given another reason why they think that this cat chase is a bad idea. If cats were to disappear, rodents would no longer be threatened by their natural predators and would have a field day invading homes. “No matter the number of rodents that I can trap and poison, they will keep coming out of the bushes,” Nico Jarvis, Omaui resident, explained to the Otago Daily Times.
“If I can’t have a cat, it would be almost dangerous for me to live in my house,” explained the owner of three cats who has launched a petition to overturn the ban. However, Omaui is not the only village in New Zealand who wants to take measures against cats. The capital, Wellington, as well as the city of Auckland, has apparently already started plans aimed at reducing the number of domestic felines.
According to the Washington Post, the inhabitants of Omaui have until the 23rd of October to oppose the proposition.