Aucklanders caught trying to take pet cats into national park

Source: 1News

A Department of Conservation ranger did a double-take when she noticed jacket-wearing cats being put into backpacks at Taranaki's Egmont National Park.

A ranger came across visitors from Auckland who were intending to take their cats on a tramp in Egmont National Park.

The ranger came across visitors from Auckland who were intending to take their cats on their tramp.

The incident occurred in the carpark at North Egmont on July 16. The cats were being put into backpacks by their owners when the ranger approached. They potentially face a fine.

The owners told the ranger they weren't aware pets aren't allowed in New Zealand's national parks. Express written approval must be granted.

Pets aren't allowed in the country's national parks due to the threat they pose to native species.

Senior ranger Dave Rogers said the cats weren't the first pets people have tried to bring into the park in recent months.

The list includes more cats, dogs, rabbits and even a parrot.

A file photo of Mount Taranaki with two hikers visible.

"Bringing a pet into the park may seem a harmless thing to do, but it has potentially deadly consequences for our native wildlife, particularly should the pets run loose or escape from their owners' control," he said.

"Our conservation land is vitally important for the survival of endangered species. Many of our native birds are flightless and have few or no defences against predation. A dog can sniff out and kill a kiwi with ease. Uncontrolled dogs and cats can severely impact our native wildlife.

"Even the most docile and well-controlled pet can instinctively kill."

Owners found with pets in Egmont National Park may be issued an instant infringement fine of up to $800.

Serious or repeat offenders may face prosecution and a fine of up to $100,000, or up to a year in prison.

A pet may be seized and impounded if it's found in a national park or controlled area without a permit.