Do the right thing: Keep household pets under control to protect wildlife

Natural Resources Kangaroo Island’s (NRKI) compliance series seeks to provide information and clarity on how you can “do the right thing”.

This week we work with our partners, Kangaroo Island Council, to highlight the importance of effective domestic cat management.

The Kangaroo Island Natural Resources Management (KI NRM) Board’s Feral Cat Eradication Program has entered phase two, working to secure a positive future for the island’s native wildlife population and sheep production industry.

In order for the Feral Cat Eradication Program to be a success, the Kangaroo Island Council, partners in the program, are seeking the support and cooperation of all domestic cat owners on the Island.

Many will be aware of recent changes at the state level regarding domestic cat and dog management, but may not be aware that there are already several by-laws in place on the Island that go further than the state laws (Cats by-law 2017).

Kangaroo Island Council CEO Andrew Boardman said that new State laws don’t roll back any of the existing legislation regarding domestic cat management on KI. 

The changes introduced at the state level now make it compulsory for all cats to be desexed (unless you are a registered breeder), microchipped and registered.  

“This is not new for Kangaroo Island as our by-laws have long been in place that make this a legal requirement.

“However, by-laws on the Island go a lot further, recognising the Island’s importance as a haven for many endangered species. A maximum of two domestic cats may be kept on each property, unless the owner has applied for a permit from the council.

“Cats on KI also have to be confined to the owner’s premises, either indoors or outside if contained in an enclosure, and cats are not allowed on any public lands unless they are in an enclosed, lockable carry case,” Mr Boardman said.

The effective management of domestic cats is vitally important to the success of the Feral Cat Eradication Program so that domestic cats are not adding to the feral cat population through abandonment and not being desexed.

Discovery Circle, a collaboration between the University of South Australia, the cities of Marion and Salisbury councils and several State Government bodies, with the aid of citizen scientists, found that containing domestic cats had no effect on their personalities.

They also found that domestic cats roam a surprisingly large distance from their “domestic residence” which indicates that domestic cats have a high chance of impacting wildlife in nearby surroundings and interacting with other cats in the area. 

Presiding member of the KI NRM Board, Richard Trethewey said that the role the council plays is crucial to the overall success of the eradication program.

“Eradicating feral cats from the Island will be a monumental challenge but without the help of the KI Council and their responsible cat management by-laws it would be nigh on impossible,” he said.

If you would like to hear more about the results of the first phase of the Feral Cat Eradication Program, please join us at the next “Science in the Pub” event at Dudley United Football Club in Penneshaw on Tuesday, September 4 from 5.30pm to 7.30pm. 

A full list of by-laws on Kangaroo Island relating to domestic cat regulations can be found here: https://www.kangarooisland.sa.gov.au/webdata/resources/files/kang0001_160409_048_Proposed%20Cats%20By-law%20No.%206.pdf 

Further information on the Discovery Circle’s study in South Australia is available here: https://www.discoverycircle.org.au/projects/cat-tracker/results/ 

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