Sthese people have long held a special place in the lives of former breeder and conservationist Julie Boyd, providing color and communication, as well as admiring rodent hunters. On her sprawling rural New Zealand real estate in the city of Kaipara Flats on the Upper North Island, cats roam for free.

“I have an elderly cat Padme, she is 17-18 years old [years old], she doesn’t catch anything, ”Boyd remarks,“ I also have three other cats without sex. Arica likes to hang out in the hay barn, where he knows that now autumn will come to the mice.

Of the 1.4 million domestic cats, Aatearoa has one of the highest cat ownership rates in the world – at least 40% of households have at least one. Wild cats too reported to be millions.

But assessments of one protection group, Forest and Bird, estimate that New Zealand domestic cats alone kill at least 1.12 million native birds a year, in some cases contributing to their extinction. In one early case, a beacon cat are said to have destroyed an entire speciesthe flightless nettle Loyal, on Stevens Island in the late 19th century.

However, like many New Zealand cat owners who believe the problem is wild rather than domestic cats, Boyd insists her pets prey mainly on mice and rats rather than birds.

And the cats left Predator free 2050, the government’s ambitious plan to rid the island country of pests, including ermines, ferrets, weasels, rats and opossums. Now environmental groups are increasingly urging cats to be part of the plan.

Boyd, who recently helped rebuild two acres of wetlands bordering her property, doesn’t believe Predator Free 2050 or regulating cats will solve the problem.

New Zealand’s native bird is one of the birds that is believed to be at risk from cats. Photo: Sanka Vidanagama / NurPhoto / REX / Shutterstock

“Cats can be seen as a predator that is easy to eliminate, but cats play an important role for many people. Companion cats are usually considered part of the family. They also kill a significant number of rodents. ”

The apical predator on the island of birds

Tamsin Or-Walker, chairman of the Kea Conservation Fund, says that if New Zealand has a chance to eradicate introduced predators in the next 30 years, it needs to seriously discuss cats.

“The problem concerns our relationship with cats. I’m not against cats. There are so many people who have pets. But many do not see their pet as a hunter, as all cats are, ”she says.

Or-Walker wants cats to be considered in the Predator Free 2050 plan, as well as the introduction of tighter regulations against domestic cats.

She cites Australia – which requires owners to register their cats in three months, and in some parts of the country restricts possession of two cats to a household, as well as the introduction of a curfew for cats at night – as a useful example of what a tougher form can take regulation. .

“We need to talk about the fact that cats can do at least as much harm as dogs do to our wildlife. We have addressed the issue of the impact of dogs on wildlife through the very broad legislation in our dog control law, but nothing is stopping us from regulating cats. ”

Orr-Walker is currently working on evidence of wild cat attacks on adult kea. Endangered New Zealand alpine parrot has become an annoying bird known for his mischievous nature yes a nationally endangered species that hide in high mountainsdeclining to about 3000-7000 people.

As a place where previously there were no terrestrial mammals other than a few species of bats, native birds, insects, lizards and New Zealand bats are vulnerable to predators such as cats. In one disgrace In a case in 2010, one wild cat injured 102 short-tailed bats perched in beeches on Mount Ruapehu during the week.

Both in Wellington and in Kaikur there are reports on free-roaming domestic cats that destroy the colonies of native striped cattle. There are also fears that recent conservation success stories such as the return of the endangered tīeke to Wellingtoncan be sabotaged by free-roaming cats.

It turned out to be a sensitive topic for bridges: cat owners feel demonized, and conservationists are protected as cat haters. Tensions reached a crescendo in 2013 when philanthropist and former politician Gareth Morgan published an effort to exterminate cats as part of the Cats to Go campaign. causing widespread outrage – including against the opposition of the then Prime Minister – while Morgan received hate speech and even death threats.

After the furor of that campaign there is still no policy regarding domestic cats. Jesse Morgan, chief executive of Predator Free New Zealand Trust and daughter of Gareth, understands that domestic cats play an important role in society, but argues that without regulation, conservation work is undermined.

Jesse Morgan, CEO of Predator Free NZ.
Jesse Morgan, CEO of Predator Free NZ, says cats need to be kept at home, chipped in and deprived of sex. Photo: included

“Tools to fight cats are limited, especially if you’re near populated areas, because you can’t risk killing your favorite maggie,” she says.

“We are in favor of responsible cat ownership, informing people a bit about the impact of cats on local species in New Zealand … We believe it is important for people to keep cats at home, chip them in and get rid of sex.”

Although her cats have been deprived of sex, Boyd says she will not keep her cats inside or maintain other rules.

“I don’t think licensing cats or owners is the answer. Licensing cat owners means that good cat owners will be fined and subsidize others, never achieving the goal of not allowing cats from their native fauna. ”

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