Calls to label cats as pests as wildlife decimated in New Zealand



There are growing calls in New Zealand by conservation groups to have cats included in the government’s ambitious plan Predator Free 2050 to rid the island nation of its pests.

The action plan, Predator Free 2050, currently includes stoats, ferrets, weasels, rats and possums as pests, the Guardian reported on April 7.

With 1.4 million domestic cats, the North Island of Aotearoa has one of the highest cat ownership rates in the world – at least 40% of households have at least one. Feral cats are also reported to be in the millions.

Estimates from conservation group, Forest and Bird, suggest New Zealand’s pet cats kill at least 1.12 million native birds a year, in some cases helping to propel them towards extinction. 

Tamsin Orr-Walker, chair of the Kea Conservation Trust, says if New Zealand has any chance of extinguishing introduced predators in the next 30 years, it needs to debate the inclusion of cats in Predator Free 2050.

“The problem relates specifically to our relationship with cats. I’m not anti-cat. There are so many people who have cats as pets. But a lot of people can’t see their pet as a hunter, which all cats are,” she says.

Orr-Walker wants cats to be considered in the Predator Free 2050 plan, as well as the introduction of tighter regulation on domestic cats.

Already Australia limits ownership of cats, in certain parts of the country, to two cats per household as well as enforcing cat curfews at night.

“We have addressed the issue of dog impact on wildlife with very extensive legislation in our dog control act, yet there is nothing stopping us from regulating cats,” Orr-Walker said.

“Cats can be at least as damaging as dogs are to our wildlife,” she added.

Written by

Fergal MacErlean

Originally from Dublin, Fergal is based on the eastern Costa del Sol and is a web reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at


    • Rashmi Varma

      22 April 2022 • 09:07

      It is true that cats are amongst the foremost of predators,however that is the way nature has intended them to be and that too with a purpose. Nature is full of predators of manifold nature. These are meant to establish a balance of species of all kinds. Only the human species,,by non-virtue of being a so-called “superior” species has kept itself relatively safe from this ecological law-to great cost to the planet. One of these costs is the indiscriminate murder of innumerable species for purposes of sort,research,medicine, body parts,superstitions,entertinment, “conservation” of certain species and pure sadistic pleasures. The call to exterminate many species under the guise of “conserving” bird population is one such catastrophic move. Do these so-called conservationists realise what the ecosystem will be without these predators? I am a bird lover too,but nothing will make me even remotely think of killing even to the least extent,any natural predator of birds. Cats have been loved companions to humans since interaction between humans and felines started tens of thousands of years ago,even earlier. Yet, millions of bird species continued to thrive. Do these people expect the millions of cat loving humans to agree with such a measure inviting sheer disaster to their lives? Feral cats are cats who do not have homes, then homing them them will go a long way to preventing predatory,if to a certain extent, if at all it can be called a problem at all. Extermination is nothing but one of the most horrific sins with which such humans have ravaged this planet. I will never let such a proposal get through. This diabolical proposal will break the hearts of millions of cat lovers. Not only cats even all other predators have equal rights to live.

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