AN odd-sounding plan to ban cats from verges, trees and roads in Fremantle has been forced on the city because the McGowan government has fallen behind community expectations to see pet moggies contained says a councillor.
City warder Adin Lang, a Greening Australia manager in his day job, has put forward a motion to this Wednesday’s policy and legislation committee to extend the city’s existing bushland prohibition to include “other refuges for wildlife”.
Cr Lang said he was looking to introduce broad laws like to Cockburn’s, which from 2024 will require all cats to be on a leash outside their home, but discovered Freo’s southern neighbour will have trouble enforcing its cat fatwa because it is inconsistent with the state’s Cat Act.
Local government minister John Carey’s office wrote to Cr Lang in July this year confirming any changes would require a “complex and significant” amendment of the act.
The letter goes on to say Mr Carey has “a substantial legislative program and competing priorities” because of the need to reform the Local Government Act and crack down on puppy farming.
“I went through the right avenues way back with [ministers] Dawson and Templeman and was hoping with the change of minister and the review being completed that something more sensible would emerge,” Cr Lang said.
The state government reviewed the Cat Act in 2019 and found that it should contain cat confinement provisions; that was backed by consultation which found the measure had 73 per cent support. Even amongst cat owners who responded, 49 per cent were happy for stricter controls on roaming cats.
“I think there is now consensus that the change is going to happen and to make that change you have to push it,” Cr Lang said.
“It’s not the best way we could be approaching this, but our hands are tied waiting for the state government to follow their own processes.”
Under his proposal, rangers would only be able to nab cats if they catch them on a verge, as they won’t have the power to follow them onto private property, and he says any additional resources to enforce the ban is still under discussion.
“But first and foremost it acts as a deterrent, and members of the community will call people out.”
Cr Lang introduced the existing prohibitions in bushland, and says plenty of domestic and feral cats were caught during trapping. No owners were prosecuted, which he worries sent the wrong message.
by STEVE GRANT