PHOTO: With a development encompassing 117 hectares and offering 550 sections, it is easy to imagine the impact of hundreds of roaming cats. STUFF
Protecting Native Bush and Bird Life: Banning Cats and Controlling Dogs in Housing Developments
Protecting native bush and bird life has become a priority for many developers constructing new subdivisions. In some cases, whether mandated by planners or chosen voluntarily, these developers are opting to ban cats and limit the number of dogs in their housing projects. This trend is gaining traction, as seen in recent examples like the Rangitahi Peninsula in Waikato’s Raglan, where the local farming family has declared it a cat-free zone to safeguard the region’s natural habitat.
The Rangitahi Peninsula: A Cat-Free Zone
The Rangitahi Peninsula, owned by the Peacocke family, has a rich farming heritage spanning over four decades in the Waikato region. The family, deeply committed to the well-being of the Raglan community and the preservation of native life, has invested significant resources into native planting. General Manager Sam Laity, while marveling at the captivating bird life around him, emphasized the importance of protecting these precious creatures.
Preserving Bird Life and Addressing Pest Control
With a development encompassing 117 hectares and offering 550 sections, it is easy to imagine the impact of hundreds of roaming cats. While cats may help control rat and mouse populations, they pose a significant threat to bird life. To address this issue, the Peacocke family collaborated with the Karioi Project, a community-led predator control program spanning 2,300 hectares of private and public conservation land in Raglan. This initiative has been ongoing for seven years, and despite a few dissenters, the vast majority of people have embraced the cat-free zone rule. In fact, some residents actively participate in maintaining traps by emptying and re-baiting them.
Limiting Dog Numbers
In addition to the cat-free policy, the Rangitahi Peninsula imposes restrictions on the number of dogs allowed per household. Each household is limited to a maximum of two dogs, ensuring that the canine population remains manageable and does not disturb the delicate ecological balance within the subdivision.
Other Developments: Imposed Bans and Endangered Species Protection
While some housing developments, like the Rangitahi Peninsula, choose to ban cats willingly, others have such conditions imposed upon them. In Hamilton, for example, an Environment Court ruling banned cats in the Peacocke subdivision to protect the endangered long-tailed bats. These bats are known to inhabit various locations across the Waikato River, including Hammond Park, as well as areas further south and west, such as Sandford Park. The court ruling took into account the predation threat posed by cats to these bats and the need to ensure their survival. By restricting the cat population within the subdivision, the court aimed to preserve the bat protection areas from undue disturbance.
The movement to prioritize the protection of native bush and bird life over people’s pets is gaining momentum in housing developments. Whether voluntarily adopted or mandated by court rulings, bans on cats and restrictions on dog numbers demonstrate a growing awareness of the need to preserve and restore ecological balance. By implementing these measures, developers and communities can play an active role in safeguarding New Zealand’s natural heritage for generations to come.