Cats and councils

The Adelaide Hills Council’s animal management survey results are an interesting reflection of changing societal attitudes.
Forming part of the council’s community consultation into animal management issues in the Hills, they demonstrate a clear acceptance – and even advocacy – for cat registration, limits of animals per household as well as confinement to an owner’s property.
This is a far cry from the nonchalant attitude towards the animals only a couple of decades ago when they were commonplace on most rural and semi-rural properties – put outside with the milk bottles every night to roam, hunt and mate.
With this change in attitude comes increasing pressure on governments, particularly those at local level, to address the community’s expectations and introduce bylaws and associated services to police them.
It’s good to see that the Adelaide Hills Council appears open to tackling the challenge in response to the voice of the people.
However, even if the change gains public and council support, the challenge remains in the implementation of the concept.
Tighter management rules for cat owners will undoubtedly make a big difference to many of the native animals with which we share this world class region, offering greater protection for many of the species that can fall prey to roaming felines.
It will also be a welcome change for the residents who are tired of sharing their backyards with their neighbor’s pet cat.
However, on the flip side, there’s no doubt keeping track of cats is more difficult than keeping track of dogs, and implementing and policing cat registration or confinement will likely prove to be complex and costly for councils.
It’s likely to increase the staffing and funding required for animal management in the region, and there may be some question as to how effective it will be if surrounding councils don’t follow suit.
With the council’s new plan intended to inform animal management in the Hills for the next five years, now’s the time for the community to decide whether stricter cat management is a cause worth putting their council rates behind.

For the full report, see the print issue of The Courier.

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