Crackdown on prowlers

Bayswater set to unleash new laws

UNSUPERVISED cats would be banned from public in Bayswater if the council adopts some of WA’s strictest kitty containment laws.

The council has many sensitive natural areas where cats have been hunting native birds, reptiles, frogs, and a small population of quenda at Lightning Swamp. 

Maylands resident David Dyke, named Australia’s top citizen scientist in 2019 for his work documenting local frogs, has been urging the council to get tough on prowling cats.

“In the past two weeks, three people who live around Bardon Park have come to me about seeing different cats with buff banded rails in their mouths,” he said at the last council briefing, referring to a bird species which hides in reeds around local lakes.

Friends of Maylands Lake chair Geoff Trott handed in a petition calling for cat containment laws signed by the heads of all eight local ‘friends’ environmental groups: Bardon Park, Berringa Park, Eric Singleton Wetlands, Gobba Lake, Lightning Swamp, Maylands Lakes, Maylands Samphires, and the Baigup Wetlands Interest Group. 

Cr Giorgia Johnson moved that the council heed the petition and craft a new law based on Northam Shire’s template that says “a cat shall not be in a public place unless the cat is, in the opinion of an authorised person, under effective control”. 

Authorised officers could seize and impound the cat and fine the owner. Cats would only be allowed out if they were controlled via means like a leash.

Bayswater’s new rule would also ban cats outright from 42 sensitive zones, an increase from the nine no-go areas currently covered (the eight ‘Friends’ groups’ areas, plus Claughton Reserve).

Added to the list are many other reserves and streams, Peninsula Farm, and the Maylands jetty foreshore.

Cr Sally Palmer backed the proposal saying “without being over-dramatic about the environmental damage caused by our beloved pets, they are indeed pets, felines, that instinctively prowl the land.

“If you think giving them a nightly exercise and them returning later is proof of their gentle pet behaviour, I feel people are sadly mistaken.

“When we look at statistics given by the various official bodies of governmental and non-governmental organisations, they’re in one agreement; it’s a tiny killing machine, and a pet as well.

“Pet cats kill 30 to 50 times more animals per kilometre around towns than feral cats do in the bush.”

The proposal still has to go out for public consultation, and then pass the hurdle of the state parliament’s legislation committee.

By DAVID BELL

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