A WA government MP has urged Bayswater councillors not to accept a parliamentary committee’s rejection of a draft policy to ban cats from bush and wetlands.
Bassendean MP Dave Kelly, whose electorate covers part of Bayswater, said “I don’t often make deputations to local government,” having done so just once before.
He made a second exception when he headed to Bayswater’s May 16 briefing, saying “this issue, which is really the protection of native wildlife, is of such importance that I really felt compelled to come down here”.
Like a number of councils, Bayswater has been grappling with the issue of domestic cats killing wildlife and has tried to come up with its own local laws to control them.
Last year it drafted new rules saying “a cat shall not be in a public place unless the cat is, in the opinion of an authorised person [ranger], under effective control”.
But Bayswater’s draft suffered the same fate as other councils’ efforts when it was stymied by WA Parliament’s Joint Standing Committee on Delegated Legislation which decides whether local laws are allowed under state law.
A common sticking point is that WA doesn’t have the same kind of state legislation to control cats as it does to control dogs, so the JSCDL is concerned a cat control policy might be in breach of state rules.
A new Cat Act allowing more control has been on the state government’s to-do list for a few years now.
The JSCDL has told Bayswater to remove that rule if it wants the overall cat policy approved, but Mr Kelly urged them to keep fighting.
“You have done an amazing job so far in supporting local groups and ratepayers who really want to protect native wildlife,” Mr Kelly said.
“It makes sense that we go this extra mile to really put cats in a situation where they’re not killing wildlife every night, which is what currently happens.”
He pointed out Bayswater’s rules were modelled on the Shire of Northam’s policy, which was successfully approved by the JSCDL.
“It’s unfortunate that the joint standing committee has, for some reason, taken a different view to the City of Bayswater’s proposal.”
Mr Kelly pointed out the council now has legal advice that its cat law is allowable given it’s based on Northam’s version.
“Given the amount of feeling that’s come from my constituents – your ratepayers – on this issue, and the apparent and obvious contradiction in the way the joint standing committee has dealt with this issue, it is appropriate in my view that you push ahead” and ask the JSCDL to reconsider.
Councillors are due to make the call at their May 23 meeting.
Resident David Dyke, a dedicated cat control campaigner and advocate of frogs and other native wildlife, urged councillors to keep their children and grandkids in mind when they made the decision so that future generations wouldn’t miss out on seeing some of the state’s unique wildlife.
“I would hate to see my grandson Hamish say, in 20 years time, ‘I wish my pop had done better than what he did’,” Mr Dyke said.
“It’s clear our community want protection for wildlife, to keep biodiversity, healthy ecosystems, and also safety of cats.”
by DAVID BELL
Whilst I applaud Mr Kelly trying to protect our wonderful wildlife the effects of cats are only a small proportion of the problem. Most of it is MAN MADE with the destruction and reduction of natural habits and camouflage for development and parks around wetlands for human entertainment which destroys breeding grounds and frightens creatures away. Added to this is decreasing water table levels and perimeter roads which has virtually wiped out the once vibrant turtle population of Gwelup. Additionally, in regard to our natural bird population, many of these have been decimated by non-indigenous species such as the rainbow parakeet which is colourful but aggressive. Hardly see any 28’s or galahs anymore around our area; not even doves. As for rainbow bee eaters, there aren’t enough insects, even mosquitos, around anymore for their food source; the reason ? Overuse of weed killers in parks and households for so called human benefit which kills insects too. And now we can expect more of the same because of further OVER POPULATION. Perhaps it is humans, not cats, who need containing more and most humans who love cats and dogs also love wildlife too so please don’t aim your fire at the already converted.