Saturday 19 June 2021

Northern Rivers citizens are ambivalent about laws confining and supervising cats

NEWS ANALYSIS-NORTHERN RIVERS, NEW SOUTH WALES, AUSTRALIA: I am unable to read this news item because I have to subscribe to the newspaper and I don't want to. But I can work out what it is about by reading an extract which is available to me on Microsoft Bing. I also know that Australia, in general, leads the way in attempts to regulate cat ownership with the objective of minimising domestic cat predation on native species. The Australian authorities are incredibly sensitive about the conservation of native species and they are very worried about feral and stray cats killing their small marsupials and mammals.

Northern Rivers citizens are ambivalent about laws confining and supervising cats
 Northern Rivers citizens are ambivalent about laws confining and supervising cats. Photo: Daily Telegraph (Australia).

One strategy is to confine all domestic cats to the home and enclosures attached to the home and if they go outside, it would have to be on a leash. In short, to prevent domestic cats going out into nature unsupervised and killing these endangered species. 

And the news tells me that the local government of Northern Rivers is considering a law which makes it mandatory to keep cats do these things. The problem is that the residents are ambivalent about it. No doubt there are some who are for it but a substantial percentage (and I don't have the numbers) are against it. 

There is a mixed reaction to the proposal to enact this legislation and under these circumstances I would expect it to fail as a proposal. Laws don't work well if the citizens to whom it applies disagree with it. There'll be enforcement difficulties.

Other potential methods of controlling cat ownership and encouraging cat owners to be more responsible vis-à-vis wildlife is to introduce obligatory licensing like dogs or obligatory micro-chipping. These sorts of ideas have been mooted before in Australia and in other countries. In general, the pressure to take action is gradually mounting as the population of domestic cats is growing in line with the population of humans.

As humans put more pressure on nature, more pressure is put on the authorities to do something about protecting the animals that live in nature. It's a straightforward equation: more people, more cats, more predation on wildlife and more angst among the politicians and administrators who feel they have a duty to conserve and protect precious native species in Australia. 

And you can't control human procreation. Look at China. Their one child policy has left them with a shrinking workforce. There has to be economic growth. This by the way is a failed idea in my view but that's another story.

Ironically and sadly more native species are lost through Australia's huge wildfires which occurred last year which have been put down to global warming which in turn can be put down to human activity. If it's not global warming it's increased commercial activity as businesses expand resulting in the destruction of nature through deforestation and therefore the loss of habitat for these precious species.

No matter how you slice it and dice it, it boils down to human activity as the cause of the consistent decrease in population sizes of these wild animals.

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