Responsible Cat Ownership
Estimates suggest New Zealand’s 1.4 million domestic cats kill at least 18.76 million animals a year, including over 1.1 million native birds. Cats only bring back on average 1 in 5 kills, so even if it seems that your cat isn’t bringing home many birds to show you, chances are it’s killing a lot more. Being a responsible cat owner can greatly reduce your cat’s impact on our wildlife.
Risks to local birdlife
Kaikōura has the largest Red Bill Gull breeding colony in NZ and the only breeding colonies for Hutton’s Shearwater. Our district also provides important breeding habitats for Banded Dotterel, two types of Oyster Catchers, several species of shags, as well as terns and little blue penguins.
Banded Dotterels are hunted by cats while nesting and fledging on our beaches. Hutton’s shearwaters are also very vulnerable to both cats and dogs on their first flight from the mountains to the sea. Local research is showing strong evidence that Penguins, Banded Dotterel, White Fronted Terns, and Red Bill Gulls are also impacted by our four legged friends. Bush birds such as the South Island Robin and eggs or juveniles of our favourite bush birds like the Tui, Bellbird, Brown Creeper, Rifleman, Tom Tit and Kererū are also highly vulnerable to cat predation.
Protecting the Pohowera/Banded Dotterel
New Zealand’s banded Dotterel population is declining and are disappearing entirely from many sites across NZ. In Kaikōura cats, hedgehogs and other predators prey on eggs, chicks, juveniles and even adult birds. Beach users including quad bikes, fishers, dog walkers and campers are causing habitat loss or otherwise affecting birds, particularly breeding sites in South Bay and other nesting areas.
How can cat owners help?
- Feed your cat well, regularly and inside, with a complete and balanced diet
- Put a bell on your cat from time to time (cats learn to hunt silently with a bell, so mixing up the type can be beneficial)
- Provide moving toys for your cat to play with to reduce boredom
- Keep your cat inside at night (particularly important if you live close to the sea)
- Locate bird feeders in your garden away from cover where a cat might hide
- Investigate cat bibs
- Ensure your cat is appropriately fed while you are on holiday
- Put animal guards around trees where a nest is seen
- Get your cat de-sexed.
How can everyone help?
- Keep beach activities, especially quad-biking, to established tracks only
- Not lighting beach fires at South Bay
- Where possible, walk dogs away from the beach areas
- When crossing/walking on the beach, keep your dog on a short lead at heel
- Do not disturb agitated birds, nests or chicks
- If you find an unprotected nest in an area other than South Bay, ring the Banded Dotterel group on 0274 363 636. They may be able to provide a cage to help it hatch.
The Banded Dotterel Study
The Banded Dotterel study at South Bay is working with our community to record, research and raise awareness of the Banded Dotterels in our district. The group is working at reversing the alarming trends in population decline through community education and attempting to protect nests to allow more eggs to hatch.
The goal is to ensure that Kaikōura can remain a Banded Dotterel stronghold. Council is proud to be working with our community to protect our wildlife and make sure it has a sustainable future.
There are many other environmental groups and organisations working in Kaikōura to protect our local environment and wildlife. If you would like to volunteer or find out more information check out our webpage.