Pet problems

After all the angst and ill will generated by the off leash/on leash debate in Stirling Linear Park it seems incredible that the Adelaide Hills Council is revisiting the issue of dog access on council-controlled parks and reserves.
However, the council is obliged by law to review its animal management plan and should be commended for not shying away from a potential battle by opening the debate as widely as possible.
It wants anyone interested to have their say and feel included about an issue that might seem trivial to some but obviously sparks strong emotions.
Hills people love their dogs and they also love their bushland and their parks.
Hopefully, by talking together, they can achieve the best outcome for both.
But perhaps the real “sleeper” issue here in terms of environmental outcomes is not the pooch but the pussy cat.
In recent years State and local governments have focused their regulatory efforts on dogs – enforcing registration, on-leash restrictions and cracking down on wandering, stray and aggressive animals.
But controls for cats are almost non-existent.
That comes despite cats being one of the biggest threats to our environment as killers of native birds, reptiles and animals.
They are copious breeders and the Dog and Cat Management Board estimates there are at least 500,000 “unowned” cats across SA that producing thousands of  kittens every year.
Imagine the public outcry if there were that many stray dogs wandering the State, eating livestock, spreading diseases and prowling around community parks and private yards.
It was only a matter of time before our lack of management of the stray cat population caught up with us and, given the situation in Mt Barker, it is now time to act.
The State Government must work with councils to develop a comprehensive management program to deal with feral populations, as well as the problem of “unowned” strays.
Landholders who have growing cat populations on or around their properties need to know who to turn to for help.
Residents in turn can do their bit by not feeding stray cats, which encourages them to visit, but instead trapping them and taking them to a shelter either in the Hills or Adelaide.
Cat owners must also take responsibility and have their pet desexed.
Failing to do so means they are only adding to the problem that results in about 11,000 kittens being killed each year in SA simply because no-one wants them as pets.