16 Nov 2015

Morgan wants curfews for 'serial killer' cats

10:10 am on 16 November 2015

Gareth Morgan is calling for all cats, which he describes as 'serial killers', to be microchipped and registered to prevent the slaughter of wildlife.


Gareth Morgan says cats are 'natural born killers' and need to be microchipped Photo: 123RF.com

Mr Morgan said a recent study of cat behaviour in Auckland revealed the number of "home invasions" - or cats trespassing on other people's properties - is 300 million a year.

The philanthropist, speaking on behalf of his conservation group the Morgan Foundation, said as well as those Auckland statistics, the number of cats wandering onto neighbouring properties in Wellington was 40 million per year.

"What we're doing is installing for a week at a time... motioned triggered cameras on people's sections around Auckland, and the idea is that every time something moves in front of the camera it takes a photo. The idea is to see how many animals and who they are (that) come across people's sections in a 24-hour period."

A cat fight caught by one of the cameras worn on the cat's collar.

A cat caught on camera during a study by the Victoria University of Wellington Photo: SUPPLIED

Mr Morgan said that showed how prevalent domestic cats were in urban areas and bylaws needed to be introduced, such as cat curfews, to prevent the slaughter of wildlife.

"All cities in New Zealand have these wildlife sensitive areas, reserves and that, where people do a lot of work and councils spend a lot of money trying to bring wildlife into urban areas - and they've been reasonably successful, we can all see more tui around the place, more kaka and so on, but my point is that's a fraction of what it could be if we would only control our cats, because cats are the ones in the urban areas that really just slaughter these animals."

He said there was a groundswell of support from councils to microchip and register the "natural born killers".

"I would like to see all companion cats having to be microchipped and registered and then councils have the ability to adopt a wandering cat strategy.

"What we need to be able to do is be able to trap cats and identify whose cat it is so we can get it back to the person... and that's what councils are all looking at round New Zealand now as they go through revising their pest management strategies, so we are starting to get some strong support for microchipping cats."

Dr Gareth Morgan.

Gareth Morgan says councils need 'wandering cat strategies' Photo: Morgan Foundation

Mr Morgan said it was up to the community to decide what the censuring nature of bylaws would be.

"It's not up to me to dictate it or anybody else. If the community says 'right around Zealandia, say, we are not going to tolerate wandering cats so we are going to encourage people to humanely trap cats and turn them in to whoever the authority is and if it's not microchipped well, it's a pest, so it does get destroyed, but if it is microchipped it goes back to the owner on whatever terms the council has established'," he said.

"So, if the council is saying, 'this is a real pain, there's too many of these things so we are going to fine you on an escalating rate or we're going to implement a 'three strikes and your cat's out, gone' - then that's up to the community and council."

In Wellington, the Council is working on a draft of an animal bylaw that will shortly go out for public consultation.

Wellington mayor Celia Wade-Brown said the idea of microchipping cats and a cat curfew would be some of the options for residents to consider. She said she supported consultation on microchipping cats.

Ms Wade-Brown said the tide was turning on attitudes towards how cats and the environment were jointly cared for and she said it was one instance where New Zealand can learn from Australia.

"They've been very strong on their protection of their native wildlife and there's a number of areas where microchipping [occurs] and in fact in some very sensitive areas, no cats at all. So let's look over the ditch for once in a positive way," she said.

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