Kate Wilson. Photo from ODT files.
Dunedin city councillor Kate Wilson has set up a ''cat
committee'' to examine the issue of feral cats in the city.
She said she created the committee because the council was
repeatedly getting submissions from people on the issue of
These included a dramatic plea at a public forum from Dunedin
woman Diane Yeldon, who suggested forming a posse to go
around the city at night shooting feral cats.
''Nobody has said these cats have a good role to play, or do
more good than harm,'' Cr Wilson said.
The committee had met only once so far. Membership included
representatives from the SPCA, Pet Fix and Dunedin Cat
University of Otago senior lecturer in zoology Yolanda van
Heezik, who supported Gareth Morgan's campaign to raise
awareness about the impact of cats on native wildlife, was
also a member.
The committee's aim was to determine what the issues with
feral cats were in Dunedin, the extent of the problem and
potential options for dealing with it, Cr Wilson said.
Dunedin resident Alex Kerr said he hoped the committee would
bear in mind that any response should include a foolproof
method for differentiating between feral and domestic cats.
He contacted the Otago Daily Times last week concerned
that if the Otago Peninsula Biodiversity Group (OPBG), which
works to eradicate pests on the peninsula, extended its
operations to the Waverley and Andersons Bay area as planned,
domestic cats would be trapped and killed.
''Once you start laying traps within 300m of housing, you are
going to start getting some sad stories.''
Passionate about animal rights, he said his main concern was
whether domestic cats were properly identified.
''Not to mention that the impact of cats on native wildlife,
while asserted, has not been proven, as other experts contest
those assertions, therefore the benefits in balance may not
He was not convinced that trappers could tell every time the
difference between a domestic and feral cat when trapped, a
concern he expressed at a meeting of the OPBG last week.
But OPBG project manager Richard Wilson said the project had
set traps 20,000 times near homes on the peninsula, and not
caught one cat.
Seventy-two feral cats had been shot or killed after trapping
in rural areas or on farmland since the project started.
He said live traps or Timm traps, which required cats to put
their heads through a small hole to enter, which they did not
like to do, and used fruit as bait, were used near homes.
Leg traps were used elsewhere, and not within 100m of a
He was ''120% confident'' that the experienced trappers the
project used knew the difference between a domestic cat and a
feral cat because of their behaviour when trapped.
Feral cats were either shot or killed after trapping.
The project did not have enough funds to run a neuter and
release programme, he said.
Mr Kerr said he was not satisfied with Mr Wilson's response.
''There needs to be public consultation [before the OPBG
programme is expanded] if cats are going to be sacrificed for
Cr Wilson said people needed to chip their cats if they were
concerned they would be mis-identified as a feral cat.