Several towns in Iceland have decided to‘establish a curfew… for cats! An article, which made the rounds of the media around the world, is interested in the environmental impacts of this measure.
Security, war, the Covid-19 pandemic… These are some of the reasons that have prompted the authorities of several countries around the world to put in place curfews. In Iceland, these traffic restrictions can also apply… to cats! Municipalities on the island of the Far North intend to limit the movements of these felines. This is reported in an article from the Canadian magazine hakai, published in May and quoted in several media in recent days. In this article, the Icelandic journalist Egill Bjarnason focuses in particular on the environmental impacts of this measure.
The “responsibility” of cat owners
At the end of April, the municipality of Akureyri, in northern Iceland, announced that cats will be banned from going out in the evening on the streets of the municipality. The decision will take effect at the end of 2023, says RUV, Icelandic Radio and Television. Felidae will be subject to a curfew from midnight to 7 a.m. Other Icelandic municipalities are considering implementing similar curfews, according to Egill Bjarnason.
This is not a first in Iceland. The municipality of Norðurþing, in the northeast of the country, took a similar decision more than ten years ago, the RUV already explained in 2021. Except that the measure applies night and day, 24 hours a day! And it is respected: stray cats are captured, by residents or through traps, said Smári J. Lúðviksson, the director of the city’s environmental services. “If the cat is registered, it is quite easy to contact its owner”, he said. Master who must then pay a fine.
The question of the environmental impact of cats
To fully understand the stakes of these curfews, it should be noted that cats are very popular in Iceland, as Egill Bjarnason explains in an interview with the CBC, the Canadian radio and television broadcaster: in the country, dogs have long been seen as farm animals, leading Icelanders to prefer cats as pets for decades. So there are many of them.
Thus, in Norðurþing, the feline population has reached a ” critical size “, further indicates the Icelandic journalist. They attacked fish from a nearby fish farm, and also attacked bird nests.
Some supporters of these curfews therefore highlight the impact that these furry animals have on the environment. Other residents see stray cats as a nuisance and point out that they should stay at home, like dogs for example.
The subject highlights the risks posed by cats, which are predators, for biodiversity. According to a study conducted by Australian and New Zealand researchers and published in the scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in 2016, these felines would be involved in the extinction of 63 species in the world. In Australia, where cats kill many birds and reptiles, the authorities announced in 2019 that they intended to eliminate 2 million of these stray animals to preserve the ecosystem of the island-continent.