• Nick Smith
Associate Minister of Local Government

The Minister of Conservation Nick Smith said today that it was time that the threat cats posed to our native birds was properly understood and recognised and that restrictions on having a pet cat in settlements close to our National Parks are considered.

"Our special native birds like the Kiwi, Kaka, Kea and many others have evolved in a land without mammal predators. Thousands of native birds are killed every year by both wild and domestic cats. It is time to consider whether banning cats in National Park Villages like Arthur's Pass and St Arnaud is appropriate."

In a formal submission to the Tasman District Council Resource Management Plan, the Minister has suggested that the council provide for a ban on cats on any new subdivisions, that it ban any new cats to the area but that any existing cats be allowed to live out their lives. "We have made a huge investment trying to restore native birds and lizards in our National Parks. In St Arnaud the recently launched Mainland Island project will see more than $130,000 expended on control of introduced species. It is a waste if this effort is lost to moggies from neighbouring properties."

"For the Kaka and the Wood pigeon living next door to a cat is like living next door to a man-eating tiger, albeit that for the cat it is like living next door to a pet food shop."

"It is a special privilege to live next door to a National Park and with that privilege go responsibilities. I do not think it is too big an ask that people living in these few communities refrain from having a moggie in the interests of conserving our natural heritage."

A survey conducted during 1995-96 shows that cats are keen eaters of birds and lizards. Some cats were followed and found to roam up to 6 kilometres from home in an area covering 340 hectares.