Forestry commission workers on the Wadden Sea island of Texel will start a campaign to catch the 200 stray cats thought to be living on the island next month.
The cats catch an estimated 50,000 birds and small mammals on the island every year, and pose a particular threat to the locally endangered root vole, the Northern wheatear and the black tailed godwit, officials say.
On October 3, cat owners on the island will be able to visit a drop-in centre to have their cats chipped free of charge and the hunt itself will start on October 4.
‘This means that if a domestic cat gets caught in one of the traps, we will be able identify its owner from the chip,’ spokeswoman Anna Sprenkeling told local broadcaster NH Nieuws.
‘Cats are not native to the island. They are only here because we want them as pets,’ she said.
The cats will be caught in live traps which have been primed with food and then taken to an asylum in Friesland which specialises in feral cats. They will also all be sterilised, Sprenkeling said.
Earlier this month, ecologist and professor Chris Smit confirmed to DutchNews.nl that plans are being made for a test case trial compelling cat owners to keep their pets inside because of the risk to wild birds.
Under the European Bird and Habitat Directives countries have a legal obligation to protect wildlife, so allowing cats to roam and kill is illegal, Smit says.