Cats may be cute but they can also be deadly, with both feral cats and pets wreaking havoc on Indigenous fauna.
Under the Surf Coast Shire cat curfew, cats across the shire, excluding the rural zone, must be confined to the owners’ premises between 8pm and 6am daily to help reduce attacks on Indigenous animals.
Great Ocean Road Coast Committee conservation officer Georgie Beale said the local coast was home to a range of threatened or endangered species such as the Swift Parrot, Southern Brown Bandicoot, Swamp Antechinus and Rufous Bristlebird.
“Once a cat is out of its domestic environment it’s feral and they cause death and destruction, decimating indigenous wildlife including threatened and endangered species,” Ms Beale said.
Under the curfew cats found at large in any public area or outside their owner’s property between 8pm and 6am can be seized.
The Domestic Animal Act states cats at large can cost their owners a fee of 1 penalty unit ($100) for a first offence and 3 penalty units ($300) for further infringements.
All domestic cats should be micro chipped, registered and wear a registration tag to ensure lost and wandering cats are returned to their owners.
Otway Community Conservation Network (OCCN) facilitator Luke Hynes said cats have a huge impact on fauna.
“It’s essential that we reduce their impact on our coast,” he said.
The OCCN hires a humane cat cage free of charge, with a $50 refundable deposit, to capture wandering cats.
The cage is only hired out under special conditions to ensure cats caught are unharmed and users must adhere to strict guidelines for use.
It’s an offence for residents to set up inhumane steel jaw traps to capture wandering cats on their properties.
RSPCA Victoria Senior Inspector Daniel Bode said they see up to 100 cases of animal cruelty each year in Victoria arising from the use of traps including steel jaw traps.
“It is illegal under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act to set a steel jaw trap due to the potential they have to cause extreme injury, pain and suffering to animals.”
Ms. Beale said cat control was a complex task but that all cat owners could take simple steps to minimise the harm cats cause.
“Have your cats desexed and have them home at night. If they’re not wandering, they’re not killing our precious wildlife.”
For further information on the Cat Curfew visit the Surf Coast Shire website.
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