Local bodies vote to herd cats

A double dose from Dunedin at the Local Government New Zealand conference – Dunedin mayor Dave Cull has been elected as the new LGNZ president (a pity it’s not a full time position), and a Dunedin remit was voted for by a bare 51% to bring in cat controls.

National legislation to manage cats

The third remit was proposed by Dunedin City Council and asks that LGNZ lobby the Government on the importance of implementing the final version of the National Cat Management strategy which recognises both the importance of companion cats and indigenous wildlife to many New Zealanders.

Throughout New Zealand councils are tasked with trying to promote responsible cat ownership and reduce their environmental impact on wildlife, including native birds and geckos.  Yet, territorial authority’s powers for cats are for minimising the impact on people’s health and wellbeing, and regional councils’ powers are restricted to destruction of feral cats as pests.  The remit seeks the protection of our wildlife and native species by seeking regulatory powers for cat control, including cat identification, cat de-sexing and responsible cat ownership.

The remit was passed with 51 per cent voting in favour. 

This won’t be popular with cats nor with many cat owners, who may be required to get their moggies to abide by a curfew, not being out at night.

Newly minted president of LGNZ Dunedin Mayor David Cull said it’s about allowing councils to start a conversation about controlling cats if they are affecting wildlife.

“The situation at the moment is while councils have the power to control dogs they have absolutely no way to control cats unless they affect human health,” he told The AM Show.

The remit “specifically acknowledged the value of companion cats to people, so it’s not about trying to stop people owning cats in particular areas,” he said.

“But we do need some controls, because feral cats and in some cases domesticated cats are a major threat to native wildlife.”

“We need some tools, and that’s what we’re asking for,” he said.

There may be issues with cats but they also serve a useful purpose in controlling pests.

The cat population doubled to two at my place last year, and we have more tui and bellbirds around than ever, as well as visits by kereru and eastern rosellas and fantails and waxeyes.

The cats occasionally catch a bird but most often it is a sparrow or a thrush.

But it looks like the Dunedin council and some others are keen on requiring the herding of cats.

They kept as quiet as they could on cats during the local body elections, and now mid term they try to foist it on the public. Devious.

Heli hunting

The UnitedFuture confidence and supply agreement with National raised the contentious issue of heli hunting.

Outdoor Recreation wins under UF agreement

Put in place the necessary legislative provisions to cease guided helicopter hunting on the conservation estate, involving the shooting of game animals from helicopters and the herding and hazing of game animals as part of the hunt, and the inequitable access provisions for guided helicopter hunting in wilderness areas.

Peter Dunne has pointed to a (probably extreme) video of heli hunting.

In NZ WE VALUE authentic, fair-chase hunting. This is our heritage and by far the bulk of hunters consider the antics displayed in this footage to be an unworthy experience in our wilderness environments and not the true essence of hunting. Don’t support these heli-hunts in NZ; email our communities of hunters and get taken on real adventures, creating memories with integrity.

In response a Heli-hunting group speaks out:

Heli-hunting operations in the South Island, mainly for wealthy overseas clients, prompt widespread divisions through all levels of the hunting community. Business reporter Simon Hartley looks at the potential economic impact of banning the practice, and South Island Wild Animal Recovery Operators Association legal counsel Colin Withnall QC responds to criticisms this week of heli-hunting.

Dunedin-based Queens Counsel Colin Withnall, who is acting for the operators association, said the proposed ban on heli-hunting, or “aerially assisted trophy hunting”, was ill-informed, misconceived and contrary to New Zealand’s interests.

Aerially assisted trophy hunting?

Mr Withnall said it was a myth and “gross exaggeration” that animals were chased “to the point of exhaustion” during heli-hunting then “driven” into the client’s gun sights by aerial “herding or hazing”.

The guide and client were dropped within a few hundred metres of where the animal was likely to pass and, if needed, the helicopter was positioned by flying slowly and hovering so the animal would take the preferred route, and not rush off at high speed and disappear, Mr Withnall said.

This sounds like a sanitized version of what takes place and frankly has major credibility problems.

Landing a helicopter “within a few hundred metres of where the animal was likely to pass” could mean several things:

  • the animal may see and will hear the helicopter (as the helicopter inhabitants must have seen the animal) and presumably will head in the opposite direction at a great rate of knots, or at the very least it will be majorly spooked
  • if the animal is far enough away not to notice the chopper then the ‘hunters’ won’t know where it is either
  • the chances of the animal being “likely to pass” where the guide and client are without significant influence from the chopper must be very slim

“The helicopter was positioned by flying slowly and hovering so the animal would take the preferred route”? The preferred route for most animals will “rush off at high speed and disappear”, unless of course a bit of manouvering (slowly and hovering of course) takes place.

Hunting or stalking from the ground usually involves a lot of time, effort and cunning. You have to locate and sneak up on animals. If they see you before you get a chance to shoot your chances diminish substantially.

I’d be interested to hear how often on a heli hunt an animal is shot without the need for herding or hazing. Can anyone answer that?