Frustration builds on cats

Sarah IsonBusselton Dunsborough Times

Residents are taking matters into their own hands and trapping wandering domestic cats as inaction from pet owners leads environmentalists to warn wildlife loss will increase without legislative changes.

Dunsborough and Busselton Wildlife Care Inc. owner Sasha Boundy said she knew of many people trapping cats and thought some residents were “getting more and more vigilante”.

“Most people will return them to a ranger but there’s a lot of hatred towards cats,” Ms Boundy said.

“Neighbours aren’t going to keep control of their own cats and rangers drop any cats they find straight home with no real punishments on the owners, which doesn’t solve the problem of irresponsible cat ownership.”

At a responsible pet ownership workshop hosted by Geocatch this month, residents admitted to trapping cats on their properties, which they are entitled to do given the traps are borrowed from the City of Busselton and used only on their private land.

Wildlife group FAWNA president Suzanne Strapp said while she supported such action, she was “alarmed” residents could only trap cats in their own yards and not contribute to catching them on public land.

“While there’s a lot of controls around dogs because of the threat they can pose to people, there’s nowhere near the same around cats,” she said. “We have to start better valuing the wildlife asset we have and protect the possums before it’s too late”

Ms Strapp and Ms Boundy pressed the need for a local Cat Act that would allow rangers to fine neglectful owners. But City of Busselton emergency services co-ordinator Ian McDowell said State legislation limited what local government could prescribe as law.

“Under current State Government legislation local governments cannot create a local law that would see cat owners fined if their cats wander,” he said.

Mr McDowell did not comment on other policies the City could enact, for instance issuing fines to owners whose cats were found in specific zones.

The Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions said the Cat Act 2011 provided management of domestic cats. It did not comment on the need for more legislation when asked by the Times.

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