DOC staff in Taranaki say they are concerned for vulnerable native wildlife after another case of a domestic cat being brought into the region’s national park has emerged.
In August last year, DOC issued a plea to the public to leave domestic pets at home after several incidents of jacket-clad cats, tropical birds and dogs being brought into Egmont National Park/Te Papa-Kura-o-Taranaki.
In one of those incidents, a DOC ranger on duty personally encountered visitors with their pet cats and asked them to leave the park immediately.
The public plea on the issue at that time resulted in a flurry of media and online interest – but the problem has not gone away, says DOC Senior Ranger, Cameron Hunt.
“We’ve been alerted to another case of a pet cat in the park with its owner – and just like last year, we have the picture to prove it,” he says.
The image was taken in late October on the Pouakai Track, when a member of the public encountered the man with the cat and snapped a photograph they subsequently passed on to DOC.
In the image, the man is shown feeding a pet cat seated on his lap – with Mt Taranaki/Taranaki Maunga clearly visible in the background. Other visitors are shown watching the man, with one visitor appearing to take a photo of the cat enjoying its meal.
“It’s pretty clear what’s shown in the photograph is occurring inside the boundaries of the national park.”
Mr Cameron says efforts to identify the man have proven unsuccessful, prompting DOC to go public with the image and appeal to the public for help.
“This man’s face is shown in the photograph – someone must know who he is.
“We don’t know if that’s his cat, but regardless the animal appears to be in his care and he should not have it within the national park.”
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 also be seized and impounded if it is found in a national park or controlled area without a permit.
Anyone who can identify the man in the picture is urged to contact Cameron Hunt on 0272461083 or firstname.lastname@example.org.