Wild cats causing trouble

A cat protects scraps garnered from a rubbish bag above Frasers Gully. Photo by Stephen Jaquiery.
A cat protects scraps garnered from a rubbish bag above Frasers Gully. Photo by Stephen Jaquiery.
Wild cats are causing litter problems in Dunedin and endangering local wildlife, residents say.

A colony of cats at Frasers Gully threatened to create health problems in Brockville, resident Vicki Mather said.

"They aren't remotely scared of people. They spit and hiss at you. The worst part is every Tuesday, rubbish day. It's Christmas Day for them. From the moment the first bag is put out, they come up out of the gully and help themselves to the smorgasbord we provide for them," she said.

"They rip open all the rubbish bags and spread the rubbish everywhere. It is disgusting.

"Most people put their rubbish bags out at 7am before they go to work. But they don't get picked up until the middle of the afternoon.

"By then, there is food scraps and all manner of rubbish everywhere, including dirty nappies.

"It is vile. I have spoken to the council, who said it's the SPCA's job to sort out the feral cats. But, the SPCA says it's a council issue."

Dunedin City Council solid waste manager Ian Featherston said cats regularly created problems for rubbish collectors.

"It is an issue. It's been an issue since the black plastic bags came in. It's a national problem."

Pest controller David McPhee said wild cats were becoming a "big problem" in Dunedin.

"All the bush areas in Dunedin have a heap of cats and they have a huge impact on bird life.

"They decimate the bird life and animals like jewelled geckos and skinks. We're also getting more cats dumped in built-up areas.

"Something has to be done, or we're going to have a big problem."

The SPCA received $14,600 from the DCC to deal with stray and unwanted cats until 2010, when it resiled from euthanasing animals.

"It's definitely the council's responsibility, not the SPCA's.

"Our philosophy is saving lives," SPCA executive officer Phil Soper said.

"The DCC will probably go in and wipe the Frasers Gully colony out, but that doesn't solve the problem. Other cats will just move in and take over. You need to introduce seven or eight de-sexed cats to the colony and monitor it and, eventually, the colony will die out."

Animal control team leader Ros MacGill said the DCC was aware of the problem.

"We are fielding more calls than we used to, but that's probably because the SPCA aren't dealing with it anymore.

"... If it was a public health issue, we would get involved and capture and relocate them or, if necessary, we euthanase them through a local vet."

The council had recently dealt with a wild cat colony at South Dunedin, she said.

"That was a public health issue, because they were defecating everywhere. But if someone found a wild cat with a litter of kittens in their garage, we would expect them to sort it out themselves."

DCC parks and reserves team leader Harold Driver said he suspected domestic cats were causing many of the problems.

nigel.benson@odt.co.nz

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