The number of cats and beehives allowed on urban Whanganui properties is likely to be limited in future.
Proposed changes to Whanganui District Council's animal bylaw will limit cats to four per premises, and beehives to two per premises in and near Whanganui town. People who want to have more will have to apply for an exemption.
The changes were discussed at the council's strategy and finance committee meeting on February 25, and will go out for six weeks' public consultation.
The council's animals bylaw is to be extended outside Whanganui town, policy analyst Justin Walters said, with the definition of settlements like Marybank, Fordell and Ranana as being in the urban area.
Cats have been the source of the most animal nuisance complaints over the last 12 months, excluding dogs which are covered by a different bylaw.
"It's a major issue that we are trying to alleviate or manage - also the dumping of cats and colony cats," compliance operations manager Warrick Zander said.
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Most people consulted about how many cats should be allowed came up with two, but cat owners said four. Policing a two-cat policy would be difficult, Zander said, and a four-cat policy would allow council officers to take action where cats were causing problems.
Cats are a danger to birdlife, councillor Helen Craig said. She suggested a limit of three, which was not seconded. The council is not able to take wildlife concerns into account, Walters said.
Previously there has been no limit to the number of cats people can own. Organisations like the SPCA, cat charities and breeders who want more than four could have to apply for exemptions.
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Cat owners are expected to desex their animals, and Joblin said there would be no need to limit the number of cats if all were desexed. Councillors were told desexing is recommended, but not mandatory.
Although the current bylaw does not limit the number of cats at one premises, the council can set a maximum of cats at a premises where complaints have been received and there is deemed to be a nuisance.
Beehives have only been allowed in the urban area since 2015, and since then numbers in town have grown. Increased numbers of commercial beekeepers have also been moving their hives close to town over winter, to make caring for them more convenient.
Only a few people have complained about nuisance from the proximity of hives or from bee excrement - but for some it has been a constant nuisance, Walters said.
Applying for exemptions from the cat and hive limits will be free to start with, and there will be consultaton and a period of "education" before limits are imposed.
"The proposed change to the bylaw is an additional tool to abate any nuisance caused by multiple cat ownership and the council will look to take a graduated approach to ensuring compliance, starting with education," Zander said in response to the Chronicle's query about how the bylaw would be policed.