Auckland park rangers trap and kill pet

Posted by Big Rat on Campus on Mar 18, 2015 in Rat Answers | Subscribe

GRIEVING FAMILY: Lara and Bryan Jensen with son Kyah , 4, and Hunter, 1, are devastated their pet cat Teddy was killed.

Lara Jensen is horrified her family’s pet cat Teddy was caught in a pest trap then killed with a shot to the chest by Auckland Council park rangers at Shakespear Regional Park.

The Auckland Council park at the Whangaparaoa Peninsula’s northern tip is an open sanctuary with a predator-proof fence to protect native wildlife.

The incident has prompted the council to review and possibly change its cat control policy at the sanctuary.

BELOVED PET: One-year-old cat Teddy was ‘‘the greatest cat ever’’, the Jensen family says.

The one-year-old Persian Bengal cross cat went missing from his Army Bay home on March 7 when owners Lara and husband Bryan were away for the weekend.

“Teddy didn’t come home so we called the local vets, looked on Pets on the Net and Trade Me and posted a missing cat report on the Hibiscus Coast group Facebook page,” Lara said.

“After nearly a week of searching, Bryan suggested calling the rangers at the regional park. 

“To my surprise, the ranger I spoke to said they had some cats in their freezer, but they were from last month so he would check again and get back to me.”

Lara emailed a photo of Teddy to help with identification.

A few hours passed and she received a call from the ranger who asked to come and talk to her in person. He had some bad news.

“Twenty minutes later a ranger came around. I was a mess by then,” Lara said.

Teddy was ‘the greatest cat ever’ who belonged to her four-year-old son Kyah and came to the cry of her one-year-old son Hunter, Lara said.

“We are all absolutely mortified. I had to tell Kyah that Teddy wasn’t coming home… he howled and cried. It was awful.”

Lara said Teddy was wearing a collar with a magnetic cylinder to open their cat door and was microchipped.

The cat was spotted on camera, and captured 800 metres inside the pest proof fence in a cage trap.

Lara has written a letter to the Auckland Council and contacted the SPCA.

“What really angers me is there is no attempt to find the families of these pets. It’s absolutely cold that they don’t let family members know – people are out there looking for their missing cats.

“We would have rehomed Teddy if it was going to be a problem to the sanctuary. We didn’t even get a warning, and it is wrong.”

In light of the incident, the Auckland Council will review its cat control policy at Shakespear Open Sanctuary, which could include a ‘one strike’ scenario.

Where it is obvious the animal is a domestic pet, it may be returned to its owner with a warning that if found inside the fence again it would be shot in line with the policy.

“The need to maintain the integrity of the open sanctuary is paramount, but there may be the option of returning the cat to the owner with the appropriate warning,” Auckland Council parks, sports and recreation manager Ian Maxwell said.

The Shakespear Open Sanctuary is home to some rare and endangered species, so cats and other mammals pose a considerable threat. The cat was captured near a known population of threatened moko skinks, and cats are renowned lizard predators. Two new species of native lizard have been discovered in the open sanctuary since pests were removed in 2011.

Maxwell said the incident highlights that while the pest-proof fence is restricting almost all animals, some do enter around the fence ends or through the electronic gate via vehicle movements.

“The pest proof fence works. However, a peninsula neck fence has ends and these ends can and will be found by pests. The fence was designed to integrate a popular regional park with high conservation values,” Maxwell said.

“We always recognised we border an urban population with valued domestic and pet animals. In situations of imminent threat to wildlife or an unwillingness to engage with live capture traps, then other methods of cat control will be used.”

The Jensens have two other pet cats.


This summer six rats, six hedgehogs, two cats and one possum were captured inside the Shakespear open sanctuary.  

Operational experience from similarly managed sites has shown that returned cats can become repeat offenders and exhibit ‘trap shy’ behaviour, making them difficult and time consuming to recapture if they return to the sanctuary, Auckland Council parks, sports and recreation manager Ian Maxwell said.

He said the park has a buffer zone leading up to the pest proof fence where the council has more discretion with pests. In the past, where cats have been found in the buffer zone, the council has attempted to trap and return them to their owners.

The park is home to large number of breeding kereru, tui, moreporks, bellbirds and kakariki. A number of birds also visit from nearby bird sanctuary Tiritiri Matangi Island.

NZ dotterel and variable oystercatcher now breed successfully around the park, along with kingfishers, pied stilts, and occasionally banded dotterels. 

Four species of native skink – copper skink, ornate skink, shore skink and moko skink have also been found.

Takahe may eventually be introduced if the park remains pest-free.

 – Rodney Times

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