‘Stress in the community’ as 80 percent of residents of Omaui sign written submission against cat ban

Plans to forbid cat ownership by forbidding cat ownership in the Southland seaside community of Omaui was covered in this PoC article last week. An ordinance would not only require any cats to be spayed/neutered, but it would also prevent a new cat from coming into the family once a cat died.

New Zealand Cat
New Zealand Cat. Photo by Sids1 on Flickr
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Residents told the public hearing committee this would be a violation in the freedom of choice. A group of 47 residents signed a written submission against the cat ban, which is 87 percent of the population of Omaui.

Not only has this proposal caused a lot of stress in the community, many residents learned of it via social media. Only three residents actually received information from the Environment Southland with details about the cat ban.

Omaui resident Jenna Horrell is one person against the ban, stating

”When did New Zealand became a dictatorship? When did education and consultation become a thing from the past? Why has our small coastal town been thrown to the wolves … or in our case, to the rats, possums, and ferrets? I believe this section of your proposed plan is unjust.”

Omaui map
Omaui map

According to environmentalist William Chisholm, who made the submission at a hearing in Invercargill for the proposed Southland Environment Pest Management Plan, the information being used is based on conclusions that are unsupported by science. Chisholm says no studies or data had been provided to support the theory that getting rid of the cats would benefit the area.

“The basis for this is that cats are known to predate on birds etc, so therefore they must be controlled. The document ignores the threats posed by upsetting the current ecological balance, and threats posed by other introduced predators, namely mustelids, hedgehogs and rats.”

Horrell also told the hearing that Environment Southland didn’t attend the two community meeting to discuss the issue, even after being invited. In an interview with Otago Daily Times, she said all of this trouble is about a “population of 12 cats or less.”

Should the proposal be passed, unknown officials would be granted compulsory access to the homes of the residents with the intent of looking for cats. It would be a better system to have pictures of the cats owned by the residents to identify which are owned and which are feral, Jarvis added.

The resurgence of rats, should the cats be removed from the area, is also being discussed in opposition to the ban on cats.

The panel is expected to provide a final report within the next few months. If there are so few cats in the area, an ordinance to have all cats spayed/neutered would be more viable than to rid Omaui of cats entirely.

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