Petition urges 24/7 cat curfew in shire

October 5, 2021 BY

The existing cat curfew in the Surf Coast Shire states cats must be confined to their owners’ premises between 8pm-6am, except in rural areas. Photo: UNSPLASH

NEARLY 400 people have signed a petition urging the Surf Coast Shire to introduce a 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week cat curfew across the municipality.

Councillors officially received the petition at their meeting on September 28.

Under the shire’s existing rules, cats in the shire, except the rural zone, must be confined to their owners’ premises between 8pm and 6am.

The shire’s websites states the 10-hour curfew is in response to “community concerns about the negative environmental impact of cats on native animals, and the nuisance value of wandering animals for neighbouring households”.

This is not enough for the those people who signed the petition, which states feral and domestic cats have “adapted quickly to a wide range of climates and are now a problem across most of Australia”.

“On the Surf Coast we are privileged to live in a wonderful environment, which includes many unique and endangered species, such as rufous bristlebirds, long-nosed bandicoots and swamp antenichus, and our coastal fringe has become an important mammal refuge,” the petition states.

“Cats can live very happily indoors so a way of managing this problem is a 24-7 cat curfew. This is a cheap and simple way to ensure that our native wildlife is not at risk from roaming domestic cats, and would reduce the chance of them becoming feral.”

The petition also encourages residents to consider developing cat runs at their homes or harnessing cats for outdoor walks.

According to the letter by the lead petitioner sent to shire chief executive officer Robyn Seymour, the petition is being presented as the shire develops its new Domestic Animal Management Plan (DAMP).

Signatures were collected over a three-week period in late July and early August from people in locations mostly in Aireys Inlet, Anglesea, and two locations in Torquay.

“In approaching strangers outside shops etc. I had initially expected some very negative responses, but instead was really surprised at the mostly very positive attitude,” the lead petitioner, who lives in Aireys Inlet, wrote.

“Most people did not ask for more information, but signed as soon as I said 24/7 cat curfew.

“Several were overwhelmingly enthusiastic and grateful for the opportunity to do so.”

Under the existing curfew, council officers can seize cats found-at-large in any public area or outside their owner’s property between 8pm-6am, with owners having eight days to reclaim their cats.

The curfew does not apply in areas zoned rural in the planning scheme as the shire says it is difficult to confine a cat to a farm, and they are often instrumental in controlling vermin.

The shire will consider the petition as it prepares the 2022-26 DAMP, and give a final recommendation when the draft DAMP is presented to the council in October.

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