Council to consider possibility of cat curfew

Liz Bell

WELLINGTON Shire Council will consider introducing a cat curfew when it reviews its Domestic Animal Management Plan in November, 2021, in the wake of increasing pressure to curb feral cat populations.

A recent federal inquiry into the impact feral cats have on native wildlife found that Australia’s 2.8 million feral cats killed almost three billion native animals every year, and were responsible for the extinction of some species.

The inquiry is calling for tough new measures and a coordinated policy management and research response that involves all levels of government.

The report recommends night-time curfews be mandatory across the country to ensure native nocturnal mammals are protected from cats’ predatory behaviour.

Inquiry chairman Ted O’Brien said feral cats across Australia were wiping out native animals at a rate equivalent to last summer’s bushfire disaster.

Domestic cats also came under scrutiny, with the inquiry recommending a national management strategy that would encourage responsible cat ownership through more de-sexing, registration, microchipping and a curfew.

Many councils across Australia currently have enforceable night-time curfews, but some have been slow to fall into line with public sentiment, despite a huge cat problem.

In 2017, Wellington Shire Council’s trapping program caught more than 600 feral or roaming cats.

A council spokesperson pointed out the logistics of trying to police such a curfew.

She said council only had five local laws officers covering a large shire of 43,000 square kilometres, making policing difficult.

However, the spokesperson said a possible cat curfew was on the agenda for the review of the Domestic Animal Management Plan.

She said residents and ratepayers would have an opportunity to provide feedback to the review, including on the possibility of a cat curfew.