Cats in backpacks banned from Mount Taranaki, New Zealand

NEWS AND COMMENT: Mount Taranaki also known as Mount Egmont is a dormant volcano on the west coast of New Zealand's North Island. It is in the Egmont National Park. It is a place where Aucklanders like to take hike and there are those people with cats who like to hike with their cat companions in a large and appropriate backpack customized for convenient cat travel. It is a growing aspect of cat ownership and I like it because it gets the cats outside when often nowadays, they are confined to the inside.

Cat in backpack while owner is hiking
Cat in backpack while owner is hiking. Image in public domain.

However, the staff of the Department of Conservation of New Zealand did not like what they saw: cats being carried in backpacks. 😎 A senior ranger, Dave Rogers, couldn't quite believe his eyes because cats and other domestic animals are forbidden from the park as they pose a threat to endangered birds like the Kiwi and other native species including geckos and insects.

Apparently, there was more than one cat owner with a cat backpack and they were spotted putting their cats into them in the car park. Mr Rogers said: "Bringing a pet into the park may seem a harmless thing to do but it has potentially deadly consequences for our native wildlife, particularly should the pets run loose or escape from their owners' control".

I think they are being unduly harsh. These cats are secure in a backpack and they are often wearing harnesses with a lead so that when they are removed from the backpack they are on a lead. That is not to say that they are going to be taken for a walk in this park. I am simply saying that the owner is taking a lot of precautions to keep their cats safe and to stop them roaming freely.

I'm sure that the rules applying to Egmont National Park concern free-roaming cats or other animals. But these are cats which are well and truly secured. I don't really see an issue unless the Rangers believe that the owners are going to be careless and set them free, which I can't envisage.

I have a feeling that the rules don't really accommodate cats in backpacks and therefore they been extended to include backpacks by these rangers in an ad hoc manner. They could amend the rules to allow cats in secured and commercially manufactured backpacks.

RELATED: Catastrophic loss of wildlife hits Australia. Cause? Humans.

After all cats have equal rights to kiwis or they should have. A compromise could be found. The trouble is that the New Zealand authorities don't like domestic cats that are allowed outside and it's the same in neighbouring Australia. The authorities have so screwed up wildlife conservation that they are responding by attacking the cat and not criticising themselves.

No pets are permitted in the park unless with written approval. Anyone found with pets in the park can be fined up to NZ$800. Repeat offenders can be fined up to NZ$100,000 or up to a year in prison. Pets can be seized and impounded.

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