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Responsible pet ownership

Where should you walk your dog? And how can you make sure your cat doesn’t catch native species?

The Waitākere Ranges is home to many rare and endangered native species, such as the tūturiwhatu (dotterel), matuku (bittern), kororā (little blue penguin), ōi (grey-faced petrel), pāteke (brown teal), pekapeka (bat), wētā and moko pirirākau (forest gecko).

If you live in this special environment with a cat or dog, you have an important role to play in protecting these endangered species.

Dogs – where can you walk your dog and what other measures can you take?

Coastal and ground-nesting birds (like dotterel) are very vulnerable to dogs. Even if your dog doesn’t chase birds, their presence (smell, urine and barking) can cause nesting birds to hide or leave their nests. If dogs are around, dotterel chicks can easily die from exhaustion and dehydration, as their parents are focused on protecting them rather than feeding them.

How can you be a responsible dog owner?
  • Follow the local dog bylaws when walking your dog
  • Don’t let your dog chase birds
  • Make sure you can always control your dog – dog training groups are a great place to learn how to do this (find your local training groups at the bottom of this page)

Cats – how can you stop them catching native species?

Cats have contributed to the local or complete extinction of at least nine native bird species. If we don’t put a few safeguards in place, our cats will regularly catch birds, bats, lizards and wētā.

Some of the native species found in the Waitākere Ranges are very special, such as the pīpīwharauroa (shining cuckoo). Keeping them safe from cats is critical. Adult pīpīwharauroa like to eat caterpillars, so they’re often found foraging in swan plants, flowers and low bushes, which leaves them vulnerable to cats.

How can you be a responsible cat owner?
  • Put a collar with bells and/or a brightly-coloured cat ruffle on your cat during the day
  • Keep your cat indoors overnight (and ideally keep them indoors during the day too, using a catio to give them some fresh air)
  • Make sure your cat is well fed – give them real meat on a regular basis
  • Give your cat interactive toys to play with
  • Install fence guards or cat netting to keep your cat inside your property
  • Make sure your cat can’t find a place to hide that’s close to where birds feed or drink
  • To keep cats from climbing trees near the fence, fix a smooth metal or plastic band around the trunk at least 1.8m off the ground
  • Get your cat microchipped and desexed
  • Take your cat to a cattery when you go on holiday

Image credits: Cat by Chewy • Walking dog on beach by Roman Bintang – via Unsplash