Companion animals, notably domestic cats and dogs, are amongst a suite of predators known to significantly impact on native wildlife. Although there are some areas of ecological significance within New Zealand where companion animals are excluded, overall there is little legislation or enforcement to cover companion animal management and control in ecologically sensitive areas; particularly with regard to domestic cats.
Evidence suggests many pet owners value their animals higher than native wildlife, do not consider their pets constitute a threat and/or believe other predators pose a greater risk to native biodiversity. In areas where control of other predators is taking place, a lack of control of companion animals particularly cats could have an impact on predator / prey relationships.
A study was undertaken in the ecologically significant region of the northern Waitakere Ranges, West Auckland to assess the values the community placed on native wildlife and ecological restoration projects versus their attitudes toward companion animal management and control. Recommendations highlighted the need for increased community awareness of the threat companion animals pose to wildlife, greater advocacy for endangered native species existing within and proposed for reintroduction into the area and the facilitation of community based decision-making to achieve favourable ecological and social outcomes.
This study was carried out over the course of one year by Maureen O'Higgins, as part of her studies for a Bachelor of Applied Science in Biodiversity at Unitec. Click here to download a compressed PDF version (560KB). Note that compression has caused some blurring of the graphics; higher resolution versions can be forwarded on request (contact firstname.lastname@example.org).