What does the inclusion of feral cats as a pest mean for my pet cat or stray cats?

Feral cats are proposed to be included in the Regional Pest Management Plan under site-led management programmes in the Otago Peninsula, West Harbour, Goat Island and Quarantine Island areas only.  This does not give people free licence to kill any cat (feral or domestic), but simply means that ORC will help groups and communities in these areas manage feral/wild cats that affect the special biodiversity in these areas. It is not proposed for feral cats to be managed in any other areas in Otago.

Including feral cats in the pest plan means that ORC will support and bolster existing efforts by the communities in the site-led areas to protect the biodiversity values by managing a range of plant and predator pests.

More information on why feral cats have been included in the plan can be found on page 68 of the proposed Regional Pest Management Plan and further information on the implementation of site-led programmes can be found in the proposed Biosecurity Strategy.

What is in the proposed regional pest management plan?

38 plant and 11 animal species are classified as pests in the proposed plan.There are five programmes that will be used to manage pests in the plan. The types of programmes are defined by the National Policy Direction for Pest Management 2015. - Exclusion (keeping the pest out of Otago) - Eradication (getting rid of the pest from Otago) - Progressive containment (contain or reduce the distribution of the pest over time) - Sustained control (ongoing control of the pest to reduce its impact and spread) - Site-led programmes (exclude, eradicate or control pests in a specific place to protect the values of that place)

What is a pest management plan?

Regional pest management plans are prepared under the Biosecurity Act 1993. A regional pest management plan is a regulatory document that sets out the roles and requirements (such as rules) of ORC and land occupiers to manage specified pests. The proposed plan is often supported by a biosecurity strategy, which provides higher-level guidance and integration, and can be more adaptive and responsive while still setting out leadership for the region.

Why are we reviewing the pest management plan?

The current Pest Management Strategy for Otago expires in 2019 so we need a new plan for the next ten years. New laws mean there are changes to how regional councils must manage pests. There have also been changes to how a regional pest management plan must be developed, as well as what needs to be in it.

How was it decided what pests would be a part of the proposed plan?

Plants and animals are assessed against criteria set out by law, including how much harm they can cause, where they are (distribution) and their potential to spread. A cost benefit analysis is undertaken to make sure the benefits of managing the pest would outweigh the costs. Not all pests can be in the plan and we need to be smart about the pests we choose to manage so we can provide the biggest benefit to our region. Certain pest species may already be managed by a different agency, or might be better suited to a different management approach. 

What is a biosecurity strategy?

The Biosecurity Strategy will be ORC's comprehensive approach to biosecurity management in Otago.

In addition to covering the pests in the proposed plan, it outlines ORC’s broader role in biosecurity, and a number of important actions and projects to better manage pests and harmful organisms. 

This includes programmes to work more pro-actively and collaboratively with organisations and groups on pest management. It also addresses unwanted organisms declared under the Biosecurity Act 1993, and organisms of interest, which are harmful organisms that are of interest to Otago should the distribution or degree of impact of those pests, or our ability to control them, change. 

The proposed strategy is split into four key priorities. Each priority has a series of actions that inform how ORC will undertake biosecurity management. An implementation programme also identifies key projects for the first five years.

What will the plan cost me in rates?

Implementation costs of the previous Pest Management Strategy 2009 were approximately $900,000 per annum. The recent Long-term Plan consultation highlighted the community’s desire for us to do more. As a result, there are a lot of new aspects to this proposed plan, bringing implementation costs up to approximately $1,800,000 per annum. Implementation of the plan will be funded out of a mixture of General Rates and Targeted Rates over time, however any new rates will be consulted on during normal Annual Plan consultation processes.

What does this mean for me if I live in an area where there’s a site-led programme?

There are some site-led programmes in Dunedin - on the Otago Peninsula and around the Orokonui Ecosanctuary as these areas have special biodiversity values. You can learn more about what pests are being managed in your area and the plans surrounding them in the proposed plan.