Several cities in Iceland have decided to implement a curfew… for cats! An article that received media coverage around the world is interested in the environmental impact of this move.
Security, war, the Covid-19 pandemic… These are some of the reasons that have prompted the authorities of several countries around the world to impose curfews. In Iceland these traffic restrictions may also apply… to cats! The communities on the Far North island intend to restrict the movements of these cats. This is reported in an article by Canadian magazine Hakai published in May and quoted in several media outlets in recent days. Icelandic journalist Egill Bjarnason focuses on the environmental impact of this measure in this article.
The “responsibility” of cat owners
At the end of April, the municipality of Akureyri in northern Iceland announced that cats would be banned from going out on the municipality’s streets at night. The decision will come into effect at the end of 2023, says RUV, Icelandic Radio and Television. Felidae will be under a curfew from midnight to 7am. Other Icelandic municipalities are considering introducing similar curfews, according to Egill Bjarnason.
This is not the first time in Iceland. The municipality of Norðurþing in the northeast of the country made a similar decision more than ten years ago, the RUV said in 2021. Except that the measure applies day and night, 24 hours a day! And it’s respected: Stray cats are caught, by residents or by traps, said Smári J. Lúðviksson, the city’s director of environmental services. “Once the cat is registered, it’s very easy to contact its owner,” he said. Master, who then has to pay a fine.
The question of the environmental impact of cats
To fully understand the use of these curfews, it should be noted that cats are very popular in Iceland, as Egill Bjarnason explains in an interview with Canadian radio and television broadcaster CBC: In the country, dogs have long been considered farm animals, which is why Icelanders have been for decades Prefer cats as pets. So there are a lot of them.
Thus, the cat population in Norðurþing has reached a “critical size”, continues the Icelandic journalist. They attacked fish from a nearby fish farm and also attacked bird nests.
As a result, some proponents of these lockdowns are emphasizing the impact these furry animals are having on the environment. Other local residents see stray cats as a nuisance and point out that they should be kept at home, like dogs, for example.
The topic highlights the risks that big cats pose to biodiversity. According to a study by Australian and New Zealand researchers published in the scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in 2016, these cats are implicated in the extinction of 63 species worldwide. In Australia, where cats kill many birds and reptiles, authorities announced in 2019 that they intended to eradicate 2 million of these stray animals to preserve the island continent’s ecosystem.