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Community project to tackle stray cat colonies in BOP

Stray cat populations around the Bay of Plenty are being targeted by a new community project to ensure the wellbeing of owned cats and native wildlife in the area, as well as addressing long-running community frustrations.

The Bay of Plenty Community Cat Project (BOPCCP) sees collaboration between local animal authorities with backing by the Bay of Plenty Regional Council, hopes to see a dramatic decrease in unowned and stray cat populations around the region within three to five years.

Within 10 years, it is hoped the unowned cat populations will be minimised and managed, protecting both the native wildlife in the region as well as ensuring the health of owned cats.

The project is based on work already successfully undertaken in the past three years by Tauranga-based ARRC (Animal Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre) Wildlife Trust.

ARRC director and co-founder of the BOPCCP Dr Liza Schneider says the project has come about through the success of a programme run through her organisation, and seen as a way to help address those growing colonies around the wider Bay of Plenty.

Now, it’s time for a community collaboration to grow both the awareness of the issue, and its success across a wider geographical area, as this is a national issue, she says.

“The project is the vision of ARRCand the Rotorua SPCA, working collaboratively and proactively with the Regional Council, Department of Conservation, Rotorua Lakes Council and the Tauranga City Council to address the issue in our region around working in a humanly manner to decrease the unowned populations of cats and educate people about the problem, ultimately leading to the improvement of welfare of the cat population as a whole,” Liza says.

The three main aims of the project are to prevent the unnecessary predation on the region’s wildlife; improve overall cat welfare; and support a frustrated public with an important community service.

People living in areas where they know or suspect there are unowned, or stray, cat colonies can now register their location and gain assistance from the project team to humanely trap the animals, allowing them to be given a health check, treated for any conditions, de-sexed and micro-chipped; and then rehomed. Unowned cats who are suffering due to ill health or are not able to be rehomed due to wild or feral behaviour will be humanely euthanised.

Rotorua SPCA manager Eve Johnson says the project will not only protect the region’s native wildlife but also it will drive sustainable and responsible cat ownership in the Bay of Plenty and hopefully, as the years progress, the country.

“Through education, we want to teach people what it means to be a responsible cat owner, and through legislation make a long term change. We are looking at holding a public meeting in early December to talk to locals in Rotorua about our plans,” Eve says.

“Humane cat population management has a beginning but no end – it requires ongoing activity to maintain the management of the cat population in the region. We will need the goodwill of the community, the support of local government and related agencies, to build on this project and make it an ongoing success.”  

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