Domestic cats in Walldorf-Süd, in the Rhine-Neckar district, won’t be able to roam and enjoy the outdoors this summer under the radical measure.
The district office issued the order to cat owners over the weekend in a bid to protect crested larks, which are threatened with extinction.
Domestic cats in the southern part of the city are not allowed outside until the end of August 2022 – and from April to August for the next three years, reported a Stuttgart news site.
The survival of the species depends on “the survival of every single young bird”, the district said.
If a cat escapes, the owners have to report it to the authorities and try to get their pet indoors. Owners who flout the rules may face a fine up to €500.
And if a cat kills one of the six crested larks living in Walldorf, the owner can reportedly expect a fine up to €50,000.
However, the Wiesloch-Walldorf Animal Welfare Association said it would look into taking legal action against the general order, the Rhein-Neckar-Zeitung reported on Wednesday.
“Please keep calm,” the association’s chairman Volker Stutz addressed the cat owners in a statement. “I assure you that we will do our best to stop this disproportionate measure.”
The crested lark is classified in the highest endangerment category on the red list for endangered species, according to the district’s notice. The bird is threatened with extinction, and last year, there were only three breeding pairs left in Walldorf, all in the south of the town.
Because the birds breed on the ground, they can often fall victim to cats. After lengthy consideration, the nature conservation authorities came to the conclusion “that preventing cats from roaming free in the danger zone” is proportionate.
The district said that because the bird is threatened with extinction “cats pose a particular threat and the measure is suitable, necessary and appropriate”.
Authorities recommend that outdoor cats be re-homed with family or friends who do not live in the affected area for the designated period, so they can get outdoors.