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New 24-hour cat containment laws and fines for roaming cats aims to protect native wildlife in Bass Coast Shire

Bass Coast Shire Council enforces 24-hour cat containment laws to safeguard native wildlife, reduce impoundment, and promote responsible pet ownership, with fines for roaming cats.

By news@gippsland - 30th June 2023 - Back to News

Bass Coast Shire Council's 24-hour cat containment laws come into effect on 1 July, a move that will protect the region's significant native wildlife from death and disease, while reducing cat impoundment and injury. Council's Domestic Animal Management Plan 2021-25 was adopted in July 2022 to foster safe, responsible pet ownership, including the implementation of the new containment order. This plan was developed after community engagement drove extensive input and resounding support, with cat management a standout issue.

Starting July 1, 2023, roaming cats may incur a $192 fine and pound release fees, promoting responsible ownership

Starting July 1, 2023, roaming cats may incur a $192 fine and pound release fees, promoting responsible ownership

Cat containment implementation

Following the announcement of the cat containment rules, owners have had 12 months to prepare, to ensure that appropriate cat enclosures can be established at the owner's home, ready for the new law on 1 July 2023.

Wild and roaming cats pose the biggest threat to native wildlife across Bass Coast, capable of killing up to 800 native animals every year. Since the 24-hour cat containment requirement was announced, 106 cats have been found roaming, leading them to be placed in council's Animal Shelter.

This is a reduction from the 2020-21 period, when 155 cats were impounded. From 1 July 2023 owners whose cats are found roaming and picked up by council Community Safety Officers risk a $192 fine, as well as pound release fees.

Outdoor cat restrictions

Bass Coast Shire Mayor, Cr Michael Whelan, said most pet owners understood why the outdoor cat ban was being introduced, with many already choosing to enforce the curfew at home. "The curfew doesn't mean cats need to be inside 24/7. But, if you want to let your cat outside, your yard must be safe and secure, with cat-proof fencing or a cat run in place."

"This order is to protect cats, as well as local wildlife. The cats we impound are the lucky ones. Others are hit by cars or never return home - becoming feral, feeding off native animals and continuing the feral population with unwanted litters," says Cr Whelan.

Combatting cat threat

Cats pose a significant threat to the iconic fauna of Bass Coast, not just through predation, but also disease. Phillip Island Nature Parks' Conservation Manager, Jessica McKelson said their research found 90% of feral cats on the Island carry the parasite toxoplasmosis, which is deadly to some native mammals and birds, including the endangered Eastern Barred Bandicoot. This research also found uncontained domestic cats spend up to six hours a day away from home, with some travelling 700 metres to explore.

"To protect our wildlife and provide a safe home for threatened species, it is imperative that the threat posed by cats is eliminated. The eradication of feral cats is possible only if domestic and stray cats do not contribute to the feral cat population. Encouraging and enforcing responsible domestic cat ownership is critical to this goal," said Ms McKelson.

Pictures from Bass Coast Shire Council Facebook page.


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