Bushwhacked

Council to look at fines for stray cats

CATS who stray into bushland could earn their owners a $250 fine under a proposed law being considered in Fremantle.

City ward councillor Adin Lang, a former Landcare Australia manager, is pushing for a new local law to create no-go areas for cats in the city.

“Cats in the suburbs would not be an issue,” Cr Lang quickly clarified, aware his proposal will draw flak from cat lovers.

“This is not a proposal to drive around hunting cats, it’s simply adding into our existing bushland trapping program by passing costs onto owners rather than ratepayers – while also encouraging responsible ownership,” he said.

During May a council trapping program nabbed six cats in local parks. Four were domestic moggies, but the council could only hand them back with a warning.

Research published in the book Cats in Australia: Companion and Killer, released in July, reported that domestic cats kill an average of 75 native animals each year. With feral cats included, the toll across the country is “billions” of native birds, lizards and mammals.

“We’re only looking to protect and enhance our natural bushland areas,” Cr Lang said.

“Elected members get emails about cats eating birds and lizards near our parks on a regular basis.”

The first step will be a notice of motion to the council’s legislative committee this month asking officers to investigate the issue and draft a potential local law.

It would then be put out for consultation and would have to be accepted by the state government before being ratified, all of which can take up to a year.

by STEVE GRANT

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