Wild cats a menace to reserve birdlife

CAT CHAOS: Linda MacIver wants to stop wild cats killing native birds in Wai O Taiki Reserve.
CAT CHAOS: Linda MacIver wants to stop wild cats killing native birds in Wai O Taiki Reserve.

Wild cats are killing native birds in the reserve behind Linda MacIver's house but it seems nothing can be done about it.

Mrs MacIver has spent the last year trying to protect the birds from the cats she says are taking over Wai O Taiki reserve in Glen Innes.

"We're finding cats and kittens everywhere. They are just causing mayhem."

Mrs MacIver says she regularly finds destroyed nests and dead ducks, herons, pheasants and pukeko in the reserve. She says the feral cats have also attacked her two pet cats. One of the pets had a large gash down his side that needed veterinary attention.

Mrs MacIver has called Auckland Council numerous times but had little response.

"They don't seem to be interested," she says.

Council communications manager Glyn Walters says cats are part of the urban environment and there is no budget to control them in recreational areas like Wai O Taiki Reserve.

Mrs MacIver has also spoken to SPCA staff who told her she would have to catch the cats and bring them in herself.

She has caught about eight in the last year – some using hired cat traps and some by hand.

She then has to drive 45 minutes to the nearest SPCA in Mangere so they can be desexed or put down.

SPCA executive director Bob Kerridge says there really is nothing Mrs MacIver can do.

Mr Kerridge says there is more than one cat colony in the area and all are being cared for and fed by members of the SPCA Auckland's Cat Coalition – a group that was formed to support volunteers.

There are about 120 feeders in the coalition, he says.

"Where there are groups of cats in colonies they will de-sex them and often vaccinate them and then return them to the colony," Mr Kerridge says.

The SPCA hopes to decrease the number of strays by having the cats neutered.

The cats are marked so carers can tell which have already been de-sexed.

"If there was indeed a problem and the cats were ill or weren't being looked after the SPCA would do something. Really what we do is care for them," he says.

Mr Kerridge says it is a misconception that cats kill a huge number of birds.

Birds are a long way down a cat's food chain so well-fed cats tend not to hunt at all, he says.

Lyn Macdonald runs the Bird Rescue Trust in Green Bay.

She agrees that it's difficult for anyone to do anything about the cats.

Continuing to trap them and take them to the SPCA is about all Mrs MacIver can do, Ms Macdonald says.

East And Bays Courier