District Council in New Zealand abandon the idea of mandatory micro-chipping

NEWS AND COMMENT-TASMAN DISTRICT COUNCIL, NEW ZEALAND: This is an interesting story in the light of the UK government committing itself to making cat micro-chipping compulsory by 2023. Failure to microchip a cat after that date in the UK will result in a £500 fine. That's the plan in outline. No doubt there will be some more details. It's a firm commitment to do this and it was in the Conservative manifesto. It is already compulsory to microchip dogs in the UK.

Microchipping a cat
Microchipping a cat. Photo: Pixabay

So, it a little surprising to hear that the Tasman District Council have abandoned a cat management bylaw which was scheduled to go out for public feedback in early 2022. Quite a lot of work had been gone into this after submitters to the Tasman-Nelson Regional Pest Management Plan 2019-29 called for the Tasman District and Nelson City council to do more to manage cats.

Obligatory micro-chipping is considered to be beneficial in terms of reuniting cats with owners, reuniting deceased cats after a traffic accident with owners, the overall management and improvement of cat ownership and to generally have a handle on domestic cat ownership in an region to better protect wildlife and ultimately to ensure that all cats are sterilised. It creates a structure around which you can build beneficial processes.

However, after a lengthy discussion the council, on Thursday, voted against the proposal for a bylaw and for it to go out to consultation. They voted for a non-regulatory approach to micro-chipping and want to rely on better education in cat ownership instead.

It seems that some committee members didn't think it can be justified. One said that it was "essentially an identification bylaw". I'm not sure what point is being made. The proposal was for a $20,000 fine for a breach of the proposed bylaw which would have been too severe.

The councillors appear to have balked at the possible expense of it at the time when Covid is piling on expenses to the community. This is a difficult time to introduce a new bylaw which they think has marginal benefits and is not worth the trouble. They feel it would be hard to enforce too.

That's my reading of it. It's in complete contrast to Britain where, as mentioned, there is a commitment to follow through on the manifesto.

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