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There are only three pairs of birds surviving in the area south of Walldorf

Small town in Germany institutes a cat lockdown

Small town in Germany institutes a cat lockdown

The lockdown will be in effect until August and it aims to protect the crested lark, a bird threatened with extinction

Recently, the small German town of Walldorf decided to ban housecats from going outside until August. The ‘cat lockdown’ was issued to help protect local bird species, especially the crested lark, which is threatened with extinction.

Local authorities have, in fact, instituted a whole host of measures to help the crested lark during its mating season, with the cat lockdown featured as the final touch. Owners in the southern part of the city can expect to have to keep their cats indoors from April to August for the next three years or face a hefty fine.

At the same time, a local animal rights group called Vorsitzender des Tierschutzvereins (Association for Animal Protection) Wiesloch/Walldorf has deemed the action too drastic. According to a report by the local newspaper, the Rhein-Neckar-Zeitung, Representative Volker Stutz will attempt to repeal the ban.

Every single crested lark is important

The crested lark has the highest endangered designation "Red List 1" (threatened with extinction) and the bird breeds exclusively in the administrative district of Karlsruhe. According to district animal authorities, there were only six birds (three pairs) in Walldorf in 2021. The birds were found to live in the southern part of the city, where the cat ban is active.

According to a report by Der Tagesspiegel, local authorities had previously put other measures in place. They include a temporary stop to construction work, including traps for foxes, free-roaming cats and magpies, all potential threats to the lark.

The bird is so vulnerable because it nests, breeds and looks for food on the ground. And because their breeding grounds are so close to Walldorf, authorities have opted to cut the risk of house cats damaging the population.

If owners violate the cat lockdown, they may face a fine of 500 euros, and if a house cat kills a lark, that number can go to 50,000. However, in individual cases, it can be decided that cats are allowed outside, provided that there is no demonstrable danger for the crested lark. Alternatively, people can go outside with their cats on a leash, if the leash is shorter than two metres.  

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