Council removes cat shelter

By Mike Barrington of the Northern Advocate -
Photo / File photo
Photo / File photo

The Far North District Council has removed a cat feeding shelter at Paihia.

The crackdown against 86-year-old Betty Chapman and her team of volunteers feeding 10 stray cats at a Paihia reserve has created controversy, with cat lovers so critical of the council action their vitriolic emails have drawn accusations of cyber bullying.

Council communications officer Richard Edmondson said the feeding station was removed on Friday in accordance with a Bay of Island-Whangaroa Community Board decision last month to order Mrs Chapman and her team to remove the shelter from the Williams House Historic Reserve, where the stray cats have been fed for the past nine years.

"My understanding is we are also removing food to discourage people from feeding cats on the reserve," Mr Edmondson said.

He added that the council had given the Bay of Islands SPCA and other cat colony supporters reasonable time to find an alternative place to feed the cats.

However, when he sent out a media release a fortnight ago saying the FNDC would allow time to find a new site for the shelter, Mayor Wayne Brown objected to the delay in actioning the board ruling.

Mrs Chapman said she and her volunteers were devastated by the shelter's removal, particularly as the community board had in previous years praised their work in neutering stray cats.

She thinks Bay Bush Action, a volunteer group eliminating pests in the Opua State Forest, to have had a key role in the shelter's expulsion from the reserve.

"Bay Bush has been on the scene only 18 months yet they are throwing their weight around in an urban area when they should be catching ferals (wild cats) in the Opua forest," Mrs Chapman said.

The 10 Paihia cats were neutered and caused no harm. They were used to being fed at the shelter and she and her volunteers wanted to see them live out their days peacefully.

"If we (the cat feeding team) are wiped more dumped cats will turn up in Paihia,"she said.

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