Visitors to Mount Taranaki are being urged to obey the rules and leave their family pets at home, after Department of Conservation (DOC) staff observed jacket-wearing domestic cats being taken into Egmont National Park.
Senior Ranger, Dave Rogers says a DOC staffer did a double-take when she encountered pet cats wearing jackets and being carried in backpacks by their human owners on Mount Taranaki.
“Cats and all other domestic animals are not allowed in the National Park as they pose a threat to endangered birds such as kiwi and whio, and other native species including geckos and insects,” said Ranger Rogers.
He says the cats were in the carpark at North Egmont and being put into the backpacks by their owners when approached by the ranger. The owners, who were visitors from Auckland, said they weren’t aware of the rules around taking pets into the park.
The cat owners now potentially face an infringement fine.
Dogs, rabbits, cats and even a parrot have been brought into Egmont National Park by visitors in recent months.
“Bringing a pet into the park may seem a harmless thing to do,” says Mr Rogers.
“But it has potentially deadly consequences for our native wildlife, particularly should the pets run loose or escape from their owners’ control.
“Our conservation land is vitally important for the survival of endangered species. Many of our native birds are flightless and have few or no defences against predation. A dog can sniff out and kill a kiwi with ease. Uncontrolled dogs and cats can severely impact our native wildlife.
“Even the most docile and well-controlled pet can instinctively kill.”
Controlling pet access also protects and respects other people’s right to use and enjoy public conservation land, he said.
No pets are permitted in National Parks or dog prohibited areas unless express written approval is granted. Under the National Parks Act owners found with pets in Egmont National Park may be issued an instant infringement fine of up to $800.
Serious or repeat offenders may face prosecution and a fine of up to $100,000 or up to a year in prison. A pet may be seized and impounded if it’s found in a National Park or controlled area without a permit.
Anyone seeing a domestic animal in the park can contact their local DOC office or phone 0800 DOC HOT.