They may seem like friendly members of the family but cats can be ferocious hunters and a threat to native animals.
Cats on the Surf Coast are endangering native wildlife, which is why it’s so important that owners keep their pets inside at night.
President of local environmental volunteer group, Friends of Point Addis Marine National Park, Bronwyn Spark says that people need to keep an eye on their cats, especially at night.
“As native marsupials are nocturnal most people don’t realise cats are threatening them.
“Cats are problematic because you can’t see them and they threaten bird nests and small native animals,” she said.
Have you seen any feral cats in your neighbourhood?
Great Ocean Road Coast Committee Coastal Reserves Manager Mike Bodsworth says the coast’s unique native wildlife is under threat on a number of fronts.
From cats and foxes to litter and road traffic our coast is a minefield of dangers for local wildlife.
“From cats and foxes to litter and road traffic our coast is a minefield of dangers for local wildlife.
“It doesn’t take much to help to minimise such threats so that our native animals have the best chance of survival, and keeping your cat indoors is just one of the ways you can help,” he said.
For more information about threatend species on the Surf Coast click here
The Surf Coast Shire has implemented a ‘cat curfew’ to reduce the impact feral cats are having on native animals.
Under the curfew cats must be confined to the owner’s premises between 8pm and 6am daily.
To read about the Surf Coast Shire’s cat curfew click here
The council can seize cats found roaming in any public area or outside their owner’s property in this period and cats seized and not reclaimed within eight days may be destroyed.
Surf Coast Shire Mayor Brian McKiterick says its important owners register their cats.
It is particularly important that all cats are registered and are confined during the curfew hours; for their welfare and for the sake of native wildlife.
“It is particularly important that all cats are registered and are confined during the curfew hours; for their welfare and for the sake of native wildlife.
“Cats that are allowed to roam at night can have huge impacts on our environment and are also in much greater danger of being lost or hit by a car. I urge people to be responsible and look after their pets,” he said.
Under the Domestic Animal Act the owner of a cat found at large can be fined $100 for the offence and up to $300 for further infringements.
Click here to check out the Australian Government’s fact sheet on feral cats.
For more information about the cat curfew or if you notice any lost or feral cats in your neighbourhood contact the Surf Coast Shire ph: (03) 5261 0600, email:firstname.lastname@example.org or visit their website www.surfcoast.vic.gov.au
For more information on how you can protect native wildlife on the coast, visit www.gorcc.com.au.
This column appeared in the Surf Coast Times fortnightly Green the Coast Column.
Do you have any suggestions about how we can reduce the number of feral cats on the Surf Coast?
We’d love to hear from you!