Flea in the ear for owners of animals roaming free at wetlands

CALL FOR RESPONSIBILITY: Councillor Neil Jones says pet owners need to take more responsibility for their pets and litter disposal in an effort to preserve Orange's wetlands. 
Photo: LUKE SCHUYLER. 0820lswetlands1

CALL FOR RESPONSIBILITY: Councillor Neil Jones says pet owners need to take more responsibility for their pets and litter disposal in an effort to preserve Orange's wetlands. Photo: LUKE SCHUYLER. 0820lswetlands1

PET owners have been encouraged to keep better track of their animals due to increasing damage to Orange’s wetland system.

Councillor Neil Jones said problems ranged from faeces washing into the waterways through to killing native wildlife - dogs have been guilty of chasing wildlife during the day, while cats roaming free at night have also done damage.

“We know that [Orange City Council] wetland staff have come across an increasing number of birds that have been killed in areas surrounding the wetlands,” he said.

“We are unique in this city in that we do use our stormwater for domestic use - the native birds control the insect populations, but once you add the human impact, that cycle of nature breaks down.

“The solution is simple: the community needs to take responsibility for their actions by controlling their domestic animals - dogs should be on leads and cats should be confined indoors at night.”

Cr Jones said additional dog off-leash areas would be discussed next month in an effort to divert pets away from the wetlands.

“People don’t realise they’re not off-leash areas - they say their dog’s not doing any harm, but then it runs into the rushes and the ducks take off,” he said. 

The issues have added to litter flowing from the city’s stormwater drains to the wetlands - Cr Jones said people often forgot the water eventually entered Orange’s water supply through its stormwater harvesting scheme. 

“There is a significant cost to council to clean out the gross pollutant traps,” he said.

“From a water supply point of view, we need to ensure the quality remains and avoid this pollution - people value being able to live near areas like this.” 

danielle.cetinski@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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