The ACT Government will expand its cat containment policy into the future suburb of Whitlam and is calling for community consultation on the new draft plan on cat management in the ACT.
The new suburb of Whitlam, north of Denman Prospect near the Lower Molonglo Nature Reserve and the Molonglo River Corridor, is the latest suburb to join current cat containment areas.
Whitlam is the 17th area across the nation’s capital where cat containment is enforced and will join Bonner, Coombs, Crace, Denman Prospect, Forde, Jacka, Lawson, Molonglo, Moncrieff, Taylor, Throsby, Wright, The Fair at Watson, Strathnairn, Macnamara and Gungahlin Marketplace shopping centre.
Minister for City Services Chris Steel said the new suburb is a habitat for an abundance of native wildlife and state residents keeping their cats contained at all times will help protect the native wildlife in this area.
“We are expanding cat containment to Whitlam particularly because it is close to the Kama Nature Reserve and Lower Molonglo Reserve, a habitat for native wildlife including the rare pink-tailed worm lizard,” Mr Steel said.
The announcement comes on the day Mr Steel released a new Draft ACT Cat Plan for the next decade, which would expand mandatory cat-containment measures into established suburbs, as well as newer suburbs adjacent to bushland.
Mr Steel said the draft cat plan supports a vision where all cats will be owned, wanted and cared for by responsible owners.
“We want the feedback from the community on a range of cat management issues and proposed actions including cat containment, desexing, and the control of unowned and stray cats,” he said.
“Living in the bush capital, many Canberrans enjoy living close to nature, however, for our native wildlife, this also means they are often vulnerable to predation from our cats.
“Without community support for the final cat plan, we will continue to see both animal welfare issues and significant environmental impacts from cats in the ACT.”
The Conservation Council ACT Region welcomed the Draft ACT Cat Plan and encouraged the community to get involved in the consultation over the next three months.
Conservation Council ACT Region executive director Helen Oakey said the council supports the whole of the ACT becoming a cat containment area by 2025, stating that a uniform approach would protect native wildlife.
Ms Oakey pointed to an ACT study that estimated that domestic cats kill more than 100,000 rosellas in Canberra each year as a reason why cat containment was necessary.
“Cats are known to roam both during the day and at night, up to 1km from their homes, and unfortunately hunt many species of birds and animals,” Ms Oakey said.
“The Draft ACT Cat Plan discusses options to expand cat containment in the ACT, such as gradually adding cat containment suburbs, putting in place requirements for new pet cats to be contained or simply declaring all suburbs cat containment.
“While we know that cat containment measures in suburbs have been effective, given the spread of our native wildlife, and how far cats can roam, a uniform approach across all suburbs would be more successful in protecting native wildlife.
“The 2025 timeline gives cat owners time to transition cats to being contained, and also means that new cat owners can be informed of the upcoming measures and get their cat used to being contained.”