After house arrest from the state office: “Do not make cats a bogeyman”

This regulation causes (cat) sorrow in the Rhein-Neckar-Kreis …

Walldorf (Baden-Württemberg) – In order to protect the crested lark, which is threatened with extinction, domestic cats in the southern part of the city are no longer allowed outside the door until the end of August 2022.

If this requirement is violated, there is a risk of a fine of 500 euros! If a cat injures or kills a crested lark, the owner can expect a fine of up to 50,000 euros. This emerges from a general decree issued by the district office.

Anyone who has cats is now wondering: How is that supposed to work? And then also for the next three(!) years… That’s how long the house arrest for the animals applies, from April to August!

The endangered Crested LarkPhoto: picture alliance / blickwinkel/AGAMI/D. occhiato

In the otherwise tranquil Walldorf – known nationwide for the headquarters of Europe’s largest software group SAP – there is displeasure:

The district justified the ordinance by saying that the survival of the species depends on “the survival of every single young bird”.

Angela Koch from the Bund für Umwelt und Naturschutz Deutschland (BUND) told BILD: “Our experts rate the individual protection of the nests with funnel-shaped wire frames as effective. Also because these frames keep foxes and martens away.”

However, she points out that the actual causes of endangerment are completely different and “without these, the crested lark would not be endangered at all”.

“It’s too short-sighted to declare cats the bogeyman”

Jana Hoger from the animal rights organization PETA confirms this to BILD: “It is short-sighted to declare cats the bogeyman because the causes lie elsewhere. It has been proven that the obvious lack of food, insect mortality and habitat changes as a result of intensive agriculture are responsible for the decline in the threatened crested lark.”

When asked by BILD, Hester Pommerening from the German Animal Welfare Association welcomed general measures to protect endangered species. “But these must not be at the expense of the Animal Welfare Act. In this case, we assess the facts as disproportionate. The negative impact of cats on the population of songbirds is controversial anyway and, to our knowledge, has not yet been proven for the crested lark in Walldorf.”

So how do you go about doing justice to both the birds and the cats?

“From our point of view, alternative options are available, such as large-scale enclosures with electric fences for sensitive areas, increasing the habitat capacity and creating breeding habitats,” says Pommerening, pointing out that neighboring communities have already implemented similar measures.

For many cats in southern Walldorf, the first thing to say is:

For many cats in southern Walldorf, the motto for the time being is: “Unfortunately, we have to stay inside” (icon picture)Photo: Hauke-Christian Dittrich/dpa

Overall, conservationists showed understanding for cat owners and their animals. Claudia Wild from NABU Baden-Württemberg to BILD: “Of course it’s difficult to keep a cat that’s used to being outside in the house for a long time.”

However, Wild adds that this conflict cannot be resolved in isolation in Walldorf: “We appeal to all cat owners throughout the country to voluntarily close the cats in the house in the morning hours during the bird breeding season, especially from mid-May to mid-July leave.” There is a particularly high risk for birds of being caught by a cat.

Cat owners affected by the general decree can exercise their right of objection within one month of the date of notification (that is May 14th, 2022).

The animal protection association Wiesloch/Walldorf has already announced that it intends to take legal action against the general decree…


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