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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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Environmental volunteers working to restore the Jan Juc Creek reserve are witnessing the return of various native species to the area and calling on everyone to aid in their protection.
Leader of the Friends of Jan Juc Creek Reserves (FJJCR) Octavier Chabrier said an array of native animals had been sighted.
“We have spotted many animals we haven’t seen in years including Echidnas, Kangaroos, Lizards, Possums, Pardalotes, Snakes and many more,” said
Sugar Gliders are also returning, although the recent discovery of an injured glider came as a timely reminder for residents to keep their cats indoors.
“Unfortunately, the animal, which was carrying young, had been injured and is suspected to have been attacked by a cat.
“The glider and its baby were looked after by a vet and local wildlife carers but unfortunately neither could be saved.
“Ensure you take steps to be a responsible cat owner and adhere to the cat curfew,” said Ms Chabrier.
Robyn Rule from the Torquay Wildlife Shelter said cat saliva was deadly to gliders and possums and that it was important they received antibiotics straight away.
“The faster they get into care the better, so call Wildilfe Victoria on 1300 094 535 or, after hours, call the Torquay Wildlife Shelter on 0402 237 600,” she said.
FJJCR consists of 50 members who work to eradicate weeds and restore and revegetate the areas of reserve along the Jan Juc creek and has planted over 1000 plants and grasses over the five years.
“It’s such a thrill to watch the dynamic change that comes from the growth of these plantations,” Ms Chabrier said.
Ms Chabrier said the group also worked to educate others about invasive weeds .
“Many don’t realise plants in their back yard could spread to the reserves and invade indigenous plant species.”
“The Mirrorbush, a fast-growing hedge that can run rampant through the reserves, is one weed in particular that many people are unaware of,” she said.
The Surf Coast Shire publishes a free Environmental Weeds-Invaders of our Surf Coast booklet which is available on their website to assist residents to identify what weeds could be lurking in their garden.
“Inspect your garden for weeds and consider if they could be removed and replaced by indigenous plants,” Ms Chabrier said.
FJJCR is always seeking new members and doesn’t have a minimum time commitment, welcoming even those who can only volunteer once a year. For more information on FJJCR contact Octavier Chabrier 0439510269.
This story featured in the Surf Coast Times Green the Coast Column.
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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:email@example.com 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.
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