New Shire of Augusta-Margaret River law to ban cats from prohibited areas passed council muster
Councillors have welcomed a new local law which firmly puts cat owners on notice across the shire.
The Shire of Augusta-Margaret River council meeting on November 23 heard members unanimously back the proposed new law devised by officers after close consultation with other local governments which have struggled to get measures to reduce the environmental risks posed by cats past the State Government’s select committee.
“This is a great step forward in our shire recognising the biodiversity of our shire,” deputy Shire president Julia Meldrum said.
“I’ve been banging on about this since I was first elected five years ago.”
The local law was developed by officers at the request of elected members and will ban cats from about 1600 properties across the region.
The law, if endorsed, makes it an offence for cats to be on Shire-managed reserves — of which 186 have been identified by rangers and planning officers so far.
If cat covenants, restrictions in certificates of title, or clauses in the Local Planning Scheme affected a residential home, cats would be banned even if one is already owned.
About 572 cats were registered with the Shire, with officers saying the new law would cut down on the number of strays caught and euthanised each year.
Cr Tracey Muir also praised the careful efforts devising the new law.
“I hope it really does encourage responsible cat ownership,” she said.
The new law was based on one developed by the Shire of Manjimup which managed to get a definition of “nuisance” cats through the State Government’s Joint Standing Committee which reviews local government legislation.
Despite the State Government’s WA Cat Act 2011 which mandated microchipping and registration, it left rangers powerless to deal with roaming cats and the devastating toll on the region’s biodiversity.
In many instances, rangers were forced to return offending cats to their owners despite evidence of birds and native wildlife taken.
About 757 shire properties had covenants, which meant even homeowners could not own a cat despite personal choice.
About 155 piecemeal Shire reserves and 10 freehold properties were also identified in planning, and 1614 properties in total included anti-cat mechanisms.
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