Bird protection in Walldorf: The Rhein Neckar County Office issues a ban on cats

FTravel prohibited at the moment: Domestic cats in Walldorf (Rhein Neckar Kreis) are no longer allowed to leave the house unaccompanied until the end of August. In order to protect the endangered crowned lark, the county office has issued a general ordinance that is perhaps unique in Germany. Accordingly, domestic cats in the southern part of the city are no longer allowed to go out on their own until the end of August 2022 and in the next three years from April to August.

The county office dismissed criticism of the measure on Wednesday. According to the district, the survival of the crowned lark depends on “the survival of every little bird.” Other media had earlier reported this arrangement.

Criticism of this came from the state animal protection officer, Julia Steubenbord: “It is critical that cats be confined for longer. This means a lot of stress and suffering if freedom of movement is cut off completely.” “Please keep calm,” club president Volker Stutz was quoted as saying by the newspaper. “I assure you that we are doing everything in our power to stop this disproportionate action.”

Go for a walk with a leash

Cat owners who do not keep their pet under house arrest face a fine of 500 euros. Up to €50,000 can be credited in the event that a cat injures or kills a rare bird. If you still want to let your cat out, you can apply for a special permit. He must either use GPS data to prove that the animal is not in the area in question, or do so on a harness – that is, the cat is walking. However, the length of the leash should not be more than two meters. Critics consider these solutions difficult to implement. Staubenbord noted that the proposed temporary housing in a pension for the animals could be very expensive.

The State Animal Protection Association has made it clear that the general decree is totally unrealistic. The German Animal Welfare Association called the regulation disproportionate. The decline of species such as the crested lark and many other bird species is due primarily to the loss of habitat and food – among others due to the intensification of agriculture, the development of wastelands and the death of insects. “The negative effect of cats on the songbird population is controversial anyway, and to our knowledge, the effect of the Walldorf-crowned lark has not yet been demonstrated.”

The Nature Conservancy defended the district office’s decision. Basically, something in agriculture has to change in order for it to be a future for agricultural birds like the crowned lark, and also the winged and jumping bird. “Because field and meadow breeders are among the country’s most endangered bird species.”

From the point of view of the Stuttgart Ministry of Agriculture, a practical legal application of restricting the freedom of domestic cats would not be feasible. She referred to a similar question and decision by the Petitions Committee of the Bundestag in February. Accordingly, it is unreasonable for reasons of animal welfare to ban domestic cats from any free range. It is also against the nature of cats to keep them on a leash when running freely. In addition, it would be a disproportionate interference with the rights of pet owners if they had to completely fence off their gardens to prevent cats from escaping, or if purchasing domestic cats was strictly prohibited.

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