Letters to the Editor - November 19: Can act on feral cats

I WAS disappointed to read the DEX articles on October 23 concerning the number of cats a person may own and feral cats in one village in the Clarence Valley.

While Clarence Valley Council may not have the power to insist on a limit to the number of cats a person may have, it does have powers under the NSW Companion Animals Act and Regulations to enforce those sections of the act that make it compulsory for all cats to be registered and microchipped or that deal with nuisance animals.

The Division of Local Government website says: "Cats born before 1 July 1999 (when the Companion Animals Act 1998 came into force) must be identified with either a microchip or a collar and tag with the cat's name and your address or telephone number on it. Cats born after 1 July 1999 (when the Companion Animals Act 1998 came into force) do not have to wear a collar and tag with your contact details on it, but must be microchipped and lifetime-registered (unless they are exempt from these requirements). If you fail to comply with this requirement, you may be liable for a maximum penalty of $880."

The act itself gives these powers in relation to what may be considered nuisance cats: "If an authorised officer of a council is satisfied that a cat is a nuisance, the officer may, after complying with section 31A, issue an order in the approved form to the owner of the cat requiring the owner to prevent the behaviour that is alleged to constitute the nuisance."

So the household allegedly containing as many as 30 cats or the property owner of the disused church building under which these apparently homeless cats are said to breed are able to be held accountable.

It would have taken five minutes for the journalists to check this.

It can be said that high numbers of any feral animals impact on native wildlife.

However, the more immediate and often irreversible impacts on this same wildlife are widespread land clearing and habitat destruction, according to the World Wildlife Fund and Birdlife International. On the list of those who top destruction of wildlife are all human induced offenders. Any feral animal comes very low on this list, and this includes cats.

If the NSW Government - or indeed governments Australia-wide - was serious about wildlife protection and companion animal welfare, it would change the law to ensure that no animal can be sold or traded unless it has first been desexed.

Celeste Warren,
Yamba



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