In a desperate attempt to protect a rare bird in the area, the town has decided to slap a ban on cats going outside their owners’ homes. Authorities of the town of Walldorf, in the state of Baden-Württemberg, made the decision last week. They did so to protect the threatened crested lark – of which there are just six known to be living in the area.
The ban lasts from now until the end of August, and affects cats living in the Rhein-Neckar district in the northwest of the town.
According to local news outlet Rhein-Neckar-Zeitung, cat owners could be hit with a €500 (£420) fine if their beloved pets are found roaming the streets.
This bounty shoots up to €50,000 – just over £42,000 – if the cat kills one of the crested larks.
Should the cats escape from the home, it is the owner’s responsibility to catch them again.
The brutal ban had been in place for just a day before the town rose up against it.
Cat owners rallied together and Volker Stutz, chairman of the Wiesloch/Walldorf animal protection association announced he intended to take legal action against the new law.
According to a public statement the association aims to clarify “to what extent the general decree of the Rhein-Neckar district is proportionate”.
They aim to establish whether there are more lenient means of handling the situation.
Mr Stutz said he would try to work with lawyers to “stop this disproportionate measure”.
The general decree states that permission can be applied for to allow the cats outdoors, if they live in the affected area but not in an area marked as being dangerous to the birds.
But bizarrely, when asked by the RNZ, spokesman Ralph Adameit confirmed cats should not be taken to friends or relatives who live further away from the breeding ground of the larks, to avoid having to lock them up.
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One option was to walk cats on a leash, provided it wasn’t longer than two metres.
In response the town’s mayor Matthias Renschler said his hands were “tied”.
He added: “Personally, I have sympathy for the cat owners… They go to the wallpaper or the sofa.”
The crested larks like to nest on the ground of building sites near residential areas, rendering them highly vulnerable to small predators like cats.
Young crested larks are also unable to fly for the first few weeks of their lives.
To make matters worse, the birds tend to lie motionless on the ground at the sight of danger.