Southland town Omaui's proposed cat ban cancelled

Cat owners in Southland can rest easy after the regional council backed down on a proposal to ban cats and goats.

Environment Southland's latest Pest Management Plan was considering it in the seaside suburb of Omaui, near Invercargill, because of the threat to native wildlife.

Chairman Nicol Horrell told Newshub it's a complex issue.

"We have feral cats, and unfortunately small communities in a rural area are often at the mercy of people dropping off unwanted cats."

Residents in Omaui complained they were in a state of "absolute shock" when a cat ban was initially proposed in August 2018.

"You're just told one day that your cats, your treasured little possessions... really, that's it. Either they get trapped in the traps, or those that survive can't be replaced," resident Terry Dean told Newshub at the time.

Cat owners on nearby Stewart Island have also been affected by the plan and will have to continue to ensure all their cats are desexed and microchipped.

Environment Southland said in a statement there would be funding available to help people get their pets to comply with the plan.

Horrell told Newshub the proposals had at least made an important point to pet owners about ensuring their animals aren't decimating native wildlife.

"It's probably heightened the responsibilities of owners to actually try and mitigate any effect their pet might have on the environment and the bird life around them."

Auckland Council recently introduced a similar plan, with cats found in areas where threatened species are present to be checked for a microchip.

If one cannot be found and the cat is not wearing a collar that states the owner's name and address, it will be classified as unowned and put down.